Maybe I am on some kind of farewell preaching tour. I don’t know and I hope not, but I had the opportunity to preach in another one of my former churches this past Sunday – First Baptist Church of Camden, SC. I was pastor there from 1971 to 1980. It was a blessed experience and a joyous reunion with people we have known and loved through the years.
After the sermon, I gave the invitation and was encouraged to see a large number of people come to the altar. After three or four verses of the invitational hymn, “Jesus is Lord of All”, and thinking most people had already responded to whatever the Lord was impressing upon their hearts, I left the platform and went to the second row to sit with my wife as the associate/youth pastor concluded the service.
As the pianist played softly and the people who had come to the altar were returning to their seats, there was a little boy – no more than three or four years old – who walked down the aisle past me and went to the altar. He was neatly dressed and at the altar knelt down in the most reverent manner, folded his hands in prayer, and remained there for maybe two minutes.
As the pianist concluded playing the invitational hymn, the little boy quietly stood up, turned toward the congregation, and went back to his seat. It was one of the most precious sights I have ever seen.
I wish I had taken a photo of his kneeling there, but it would not have been appropriate to do so although I have since thought it would be an inspiring picture for others to see.
Seeing that small boy reverently kneeling at the altar was such a beautiful reminder of child-like faith, and urged me to recall the words of Jesus in Mark 10: 15: “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein.”
I don’t mean to be boastful, but I think I was a child like that once. I grew up in a Christian home and was sensitive to spiritual things at a very early age. My mother used to tell me that I would preach to my teddy bears when I was but a small child.
One day my uncle came to our house and said, “If you can guess how many one-dollar coins I have in my hand, I will give them to you.”
I said, “You have five one dollars in your hand.” (Five dollars was a lot of money in that day and according to the inflation calculator that would be worth almost $67 today).
He never supposed I would guess the correct number of dollar coins he had and in what seemed to be a measure of displeasure that I had guessed accurately, he threw the dollars at me. I thanked him, picked the dollars off the floor, and told him that I was going to give them to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions.
Sometimes I wonder if my faith and devotion is as strong now as it was when I was a child. Am I as passionate about preaching? Am I as generous as I was the day I decided to give those five-dollar coins to missions?
As I stood there I prayed, “Dear Lord, give me the devotion of that little boy. Give me a pure heart. Give me a belief that will never wither. Give me the spirit of generosity. Help me to seek you with all that is within me. Help me to have the wonder of a childlike faith.”