Listen up, kids! A half century goes by faster than you think.
One minute, you’re doing a cannonball in the Brazos River. The next, you’re praying your wife does not put fifty candles on that carrot cake: Not just because of the potential wildfire they may ignite or the fact that you could singe your eyebrows while extinguishing them, but because, at this stage of your life, you need to save your breath for other things…like breathing.
About 30 years ago or so, I was given a signed copy of the autobiography of one of my all-time favorite preachers: Dr. B.R. Lakin. It meant a great deal to me because it was the great evangelist himself that gave it to me as a thank you for having found his misplaced medication. He was on in years by that time and had left the pill bottle in the restroom shortly before going to the pulpit of the Westridge Baptist Church to thunder the gospel to a thousand or so preachers.
It was a great night for this young preacher boy.
But that’s another story. The only reason I bring it up is because of the title of the book. Written by Kenny McComas (another mighty pulpiteer and friend of mine), the book was titled, “50 Years of Plowing, Planting, Sowing and Reaping.”
Now that I have put 50 years of sowing and reaping into the books, I can attest that every seed sown is part of the harvest. Not a single breath, word or deed is without consequence.
I have sometimes sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. I have sown wild oats and lived with the bitter aftertaste. I have sown seeds in thorny places and been ripped to shreds hacking my way out of the resulting briar patch.
I have learned and lived this truth again and again: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
This truth is universal, inescapable, inevitable. It is woven into the fabric of God’s universe. It is absolute and absolutely true.
I thank God that not every seed I have sown was the kind that brings regret and grief. Some have brought a harvest of love, joy and peace. Like that one I planted in 1980 at a little altar in Arlington, Texas, when I said, “I do.” That vow has served me well for 31 years and counting and has blessed me to be the proud possessor of the eternally beautiful Donya Strother. Three beautiful daughters, a super-cool grandson and a lifetime later, I am still reaping a mighty harvest.
It was a good decision.
I am also glad I listened to Nelda Day, a deacon’s wife in the first church I served as youth minister.
She said, “You should meet my son, Keith. He needs to be in church and I know you two would hit it off.”
We did hit it off, like Jonathan and David of old.
In fact, we still do.
Keith and Debbie and Donya and I have had adventures all across this great land. Friends like them do not come along every day. In fact, friends like them almost never come along at all.
I am glad for the time I invested in churches in Turlock, California and Paris, Texas. They produced some of the best memories and sweetest friends I have ever known and will ever know.
I am glad to have had a part in the development of young ministers like Curtis Blake, Kenneth Terrell and Kevin Terrell. Those boys have become real men— men of God.
You can pack plenty of living into 50 years.
I have tumped over tombstones in Strawn, Texas and preached the gospel to 5,000 souls in Greenville, South Carolina. I have hopped a train in Mineral Wells, bungy jumped in Dallas and eaten every fried thing imaginable. And I have had more than my share of Dublin Dr. Pepper.
I am talking about living, man.
I have been “honey” to a world-class beauty, “Daddy” to three magnificent daughters, and “DooDah” to one incredible little boy.
With my own eyes, I have witnessed the miracle of birth and the somber silence of the dead.
I can say with the Psalmist, “I have been young, and now am (not so young); yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
I have sown. I have reaped. And I am still doing both.