THE COAL MINER PREACHER
by Charles Robey
As I was walking home from school, I could hear an all too familiar tune. I knew in an instant, Dad was experiencing a bad day at the office. You see, Dad had been the pastor of the "Shepherds Keeper Church", for the past five years. Anytime Dad would get down or depressed, he would always sit down at the old piano, and play and sing his favorite hymn...
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forever more endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.
This time, Dad must have really been depressed, as he was singing at the top of his voice. I always knew, when Dad was in this mood, not to disturb him. So, I just silently walked into my room and closed the door.
I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew I was carried back in time. I remember, as if it was yesterday. Dad had just come home from work. Dirty as always, from working in the coal mine, and carrying his high-top lunch pale.
However, this time, instead of grabbing the big box of Tide washing power and going straight to the bathroom to scrub down, he went straight to the kitchen where Mom was cooking. I could see something was gravely wrong, as Dad was crying enough tears to fill that bathtub.
I knew not to go into the kitchen, as this was surely a private moment between Dad and Mom. So, I just laid across the bed, sat silent and listened.
As I continued to listen to Dad and Mom talk, I knew that the situation was not so bad after all. I overheard Dad ask Mom if she remembered the young yard foreman, John, who just arrived from up north. And Mom said she did, as she had met him at the Christmas party. He seemed to be a nice clean-cut young man.
"Well, ever since John came on board, just like clockwork after he would finish his lunch, he would get out a small Bible, read a portion and then whisper a little prayer. His doing this was OK with me, as long as it didn’t bother me or any other crew members.
However, one day we just happened to be eating together, when John pulled out his Bible and started the same routine over again. That was OK until he started talking to me about his religion. You know how I feel about that, don’t you Dear? That kind of stuff is OK, when you get old and your life is gone."
"Well, what happened?" asked Mom.
"Nothing at first, but the words he read kept ringing in my ear, as if God was trying to get my attention. I tried everything I could but the words just would not go away."
"What were they?" Mom asked.
Dad then replied by saying, the words went something like this.
"for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory."
"Then what happened?" Mom asked.
"Well, it just hit me like a bolt of lightning. Dear, you know I’m not a bad man. I have always provided for you and the kids. I just realized today, even after all my skepticism, I was a sinner and God wanted me just as I was. I didn’t have to wait until I got good enough or until I grew old and useless."
"So, what was your next step, Dear?" Mom asked.
"I’m not sure. I just went into that private, quite place. The place I would always go, when I was stressed out at work. Then, I just looked up at the ceiling. I guess I did that, because I always thought God was up in the sky somewhere. And guess what? I was not ashamed to cry out to God. The rough macho man left me that day. I just ended by pouring my heart out and praising the God, which I never knew."
"So, what now, Dear?" Mom asked.
"I’m not sure what God has for me. But the one thing I know, I’ll be ready," Dad said.
About that time, I woke up, my dream was over. Thank God, Dad meant what he said that day. The last five years have been the best in my life, and the best for our family as well.
Being a preacher is tough. Pleasing your entire congregation, all the time, is practically impossible. However, as my Dad’s continuous theme is "God is still in control. And I love them all, through Him." As for Dad's, or may I say God's church, Dad was just confirmed, unanimously, for another year.
Charles Robey specializes in freelance Christian fiction writings, with a strong evangelistic message. He feels that in today’s hectic stressful environment, God's peace continues to ring true and is freely available to all.