The old wooden house, surrounded by large southern Maple trees, was set back off of the dusty road. The place had that undeniable feel of history. Like an old relic from the past the house created that certain sense of nostalgic awe and wonder – awe and wonder about its better days and the people who once lived there. And now, well, the people who once lived there were gone. They had all died, one by one, except for one old man – an 89 yr. old confirmed, life-long bachelor -- Mr. Anthony. He was as strong as an ox.
An amazing wood burning, black pot-belly-stove sat between two huge windows, one on either side of a boarded up fireplace in the front room. Across the way, in the same room, was a bed, a single solitary quilt covered bed where Mr. Anthony slept. And, next to the bed sat Mr. Anthony, in an old rocking chair, rocking and creaking back and forth across a wooden floor. He wore an old, faded tee shirt under a pair of dusty overalls.
Mr. Hezzie Lloyd, my one deacon, introduced me to Mr. Anthony. I was the new pastor, just starting my ministry at my second church in the Village of Folsom, Louisiana. Mr. Anthony, Mr. Hezzie and I talked about many things that day.
“Sometimes I sit here and daydream about Ma-Ma and De-De,” said Mr. Anthony, who had proudly finished the fourth grade at the now closed one room school house down the road. “When I was a boy all the old men sat around this here stove telling stories. And, now, well, I’m the old man but there aint nobody for me to tell my stories to….. Yes, sir, sometimes I sit here and daydream and I tell myself stories.”
“Would you like to receive Jesus, Mr. Anthony? Would you like to invite Christ into your heart?”
He stopped rocking, looked intently at me, as one man looking to another man, eye to eye, with a silent stare. “Yes,” said Mr. Anthony with a tear in the corners of his eyes. “I would like to do that.”
We knelt down, holding hands, forming a circle, Mr. Hezzie, Mr. Anthony and me, as Mr. Anthony invited Christ into his life. Mr. Anthony turned away from Something (his Sin) and turned toward Someone (his Savior). He was saved, born-again, and excited about it too!
“Anthony,” asked Mr. Hezzie. “I’ve been visiting and visiting you for nearly 40 yrs. I’ve come with preacher after preacher and haven’t been able to get you to church – not one time, that I can recall, not one time. Today, I come with this here young preacher boy and bammmm you invite Jesus into your life. I don’t understand – what’s different this time?”
“Well, those others asked me to go to church. This fella asked me to invite Jesus in my life. I kinda reckon that’s what I needed all along – Jesus in my life!”
The following Sunday Mr. Anthony made a public profession of faith and was baptized and, he attended church faithfully, Sunday after Sunday until his untimely death six years later.
“I kinda reckon that’s what I needed all along – Jesus in my life!”
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