Yesterday was my wife’s birthday and though I will not broadcast the number of birthdays she has celebrated; I will share this key clue: in August of this year, we will have been married fifty-six years! She was a young bride. I think I have written in an earlier post about the value to a pastor’s ministry the support of his God-given helpmeet is. It is inestimable. It is incalculable. Without a loyal, spiritual, empathetic, committed wife, a pastor is doomed to defeat. I thank God that though Ellen enrolled in the school of business with no intent to marry a “preacher-boy,” God brought our paths to cross early in my junior year when she was a freshman, and having eaten in the Dixon-McKenzie dinning common three meals a day for three weeks at Table T-1, where Ellen was also assigned for that period, I was smitten and though no other young lady had interested me up to that time at BJU or elsewhere, I fell head over heels for Ellen and now, a lifetime later, I can simply thank God for His grace and His sovereign purposes in directing the paths of those who “lean not” to their own understanding. I was not smart enough to choose Ellen, but God with His unseen hand directed both of us to that first meeting and I give him unmitigated praise and daily heartfelt thanks.
For twenty or so of the forty years we labored in God’s vineyard at Thompson Road Baptist Church in Indianapolis, we published a monthly “TRBC Times,” and in each issue I wrote a Pastor’s Pen article and Ellen shared a “From Ellen’s Corner” piece. Since I am speaking of her on her birthday celebration of 2021, I am going to share with you one of her articles written twenty years ago entitled, “A Friend Loveth at all Times.” (Proverbs 17:17):
“I’m not sure how they came into our life or when the relationship began, but for as long as I can remember, the Lowe family has been friends of my family. They often dropped by as relatives did, on a hot summer evening (in North Wilkesboro, NC) just to sit on the front porch and visit. They were members of my dad’s church, so they were my Sunday School teachers and mentors. On many Sunday afternoons, they would invite me over for dinner and a drive in the country. They encouraged me when I went to college and were proud that I married a preacher. In the intervening years, when my parents had no children around, they and their daughter looked in on my parents. They planned celebrations for their birthdays and Christmas. They brought in meals when my mom was sick, and almost every week since my mother passed away, they have brought my dad a good meal.
My life has been so much richer because of the Lowes and also because of some wonderful people He brought into my life since we’ve been in the ministry. Here at TRBC, many ladies have been dear friends. Three ladies who were especially kind to me, however, have passed away this year. I miss them sorely. Mrs. Davee, Mrs. Tyra and Effie Scott (at age 102) were ladies who encouraged me when I was a young pastor’s wife and always treated me as if I were a special person. No matter when I visited, they acted as if it were a privilege to have me in their home.
As I remember my old friends and thank the Lord for the new ones, I think of a poem entitled “New and Old Friends:”
“Make new friends, but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine, age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test—time and change—are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray; friendship never knows decay.
For ‘mid old friends, tried and true, once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die; new friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast—new is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold.”
“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Provs. 18:24)