The irises my mother planted in the yard of my childhood home are, in my mind, forever in bloom. I still hear the ending-shift whistle at the mill just a short distance away –– it often coincided with mother’s call to dinner. My parents made sure that I played on the mill-sponsored Little League team and I was an active Boy Scout. My memories of growing up and playing along Lander Avenue in Gastonia are joyful.
Not far from our home was the church my family attended and where my father led the choir. I was active at Flint-Groves Baptist Church from the time I crawled to the day I moved my membership to serve my first church. I was a member of “cradle roll” department and was led to the Lord by Pastor Love Dixon when I was eight years old. I was ordained and licensed to preach at Flint-Groves. It was here that my mother and father helped plant deep in my heart a love for Jesus and His church.
An only child, I was fortunate to be the center of Viola’s and Clitus’ world. My mother encouraged me, and helped build a strong self-esteem within me. People often compliment me on my voice. Well, that is both a gift from God and from my father, who had a deep baritone voice. Although he spent 32 years as a life insurance salesman, his great love was music and voice. On Sunday afternoons, he sat me down in front of a Wollensak tape recorder and I practiced diction and delivery. He would play back the recordings as we listened and he critiqued.
I think of my parents often and miss them today. But they are never far from me. They helped shape me into the person I am today. I am their heir. I am a living legacy to who they were and will always be.
Paul wrote in the Book of Romans (8:16-17): “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
Being heirs brings certainty, confidence in who we are and what our future holds.
As an heir, we are entitled to all that God offers. Through the Spirit, we share with God in this life both the good times and times of suffering. We are never alone. The Spirit assures us He is always with us. The Spirit is the proof that God will never forsake His children in this world or the world to come.
This year, I turn 78 years old. Now more than ever, I enjoy regular moments of solitude. It is in these quiet moments that I am drawn closer to God –– like a child who crawls up into the lap of a loving father. I feel the distance between God and me lessen. It is as if His embrace is tightening around me and one day there will be no more gap and I will share in His glory forever.
My Thoughts is written by Michael C. Blackwell, BCH President/CEO