They had both been talking about this for several months and we settled on August 7. We were just home from Legacy's kids camp and a weeklong mission trip to Cross and Crown in Oklahoma City. Plus we were waiting on Nanny (grandmother) to get home from a trip to England. Finally, it was the Stanglin's last Sunday at Legacy. The kids wanted Allan to be a part of this.
In one of his final acts as a minister at Legacy, Allan spent almost an hour with the kids in his office before worship began. He looked them in the eye and told them he loved them, that he was proud of them and that God loved them and was proud of them too. He told them to never look back and wonder if they had been ready or if they had been too young. He assured them that God was doing all the work - his plan and the blood of his son was saving them that day. All they had to do was come to this decision. God was handling the rest.
It was glorious and the souls of two Byrnes kids were saved - along with two other Legacy kids.
Fast forward 6 days.
We'd said our last goodbye to the Stanglins. Another emotional, tearful goodbye. I didn't want them to go. I didn't like any of it. It was one of those situations where you're asking God why this was happening and quickly realizing the answers are not there. Not yet. His timing, his plan - not mine. It stinks.
To put it lightly I was in a funk. It was Saturday night and Shanna and the kids were leaving the next morning to spend a few days with her parents. The thought of church did not appeal at all. I just wasn't in the mood. I wanted to be alone. Honestly, I wanted to get up Sunday morning and go on a nice, quiet, head-clearing bike ride.
But Shanna was supposed to help teach. She was heading out of town so I got the nod.
I showed up Sunday morning and hit the kids hall to take Shanna's role as a 'Journeyman' which I completely messed up. However no children were harmed and I've been told I'm welcome to give it another shot.
I wandered, alone, toward worship service. At least I felt alone. The fog I was in prevents me from recalling any conversations I may have had - except one.
Jim Littlejohn is one of those guys who you catch a glimpse of every now and then. He's quiet and low profile but seems to always be serving. He's behind the scenes and is probably the type of servant God really appreciates. Because much of the time God is the only one who sees what he's doing.
This has been a tough year for Jim. He's spending a lot of time caring for his wife but every once in a while you still get that glimpse of him. And he's usually on his way to do something that needs to be done.
That morning he caught me at the entrance to the sanctuary. "Aren't kids and grandkids such a blessing? Isn't it great to be able to watch them grow up? I wanted to let you know how blessed I was to be a part of your kids baptisms last week."
Jim, unintentionally, had delivered me a spiritual smackdown. A well deserved one at that.
He was blessed? This man who had been through so much uncertainty was blessed? Well, yes. Of course he was. I was too. Everyone who was there had been. Even the angels in heaven rejoiced. Had I forgot?
I won't again. As it turns out, Jim came to me to tell me he had been blessed. Little did he know that what he actually did was bless me.