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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


 

Daily Boost

November 12, 2012 - Just a Bouquet of Flowers

By T. Ray Rachels

There is today an old well in the courtyard of early-20th-century Chinese reformer Sun Yat Sen's home, now a museum in southern China, that reads: "Weary traveler, when you drink from this well, don't forget the hands that dug it."

I stood at that well once, taking in its wisdom and its water. Since then there have been many opportunities to review the message through seeing its application in the lives of people.

I saw a primary example at a church dedication, a celebrative occasion when people gathered to offer thanks for the way God had led them through the years. It would have been an easy thing for the church to have focused attention only on their current status and on those presently serving, others being out of sight and out of mind.

But the pioneers were there, those well diggers, whose work could have been and often is long forgotten. They were also remembered, and recognition of their contributions was wonderfully mixed into the overall scheme of honor, putting an appropriate and properly blended judgment to the occasion.

A few years ago at an annual meeting of the Assemblies of God's Southern California District Council, five ministers were honored who had completed 50 years of continuous ministerial ordination with the Fellowship. A ceremony, with certificates of appreciation and public recognition in an evening service, highlighted their ministry. Five were honored, but only four attended.

About a month prior to that District meeting, this letter came to my office:

****

Dear Brethren,

We received a letter that at the District Council they would recognize and award Ralph Lotridge for 50 years in the ministry. I am so sorry we are afraid to try to be there. Ralph has been a bed patient for almost 6 years now. It started with a stroke. His mind is good and you'll never know how happy you made him feel just to know you still remember him. If we tried to make it and something went wrong on the mountain ridge, we would sure be in trouble. At present, we don't even take him out to eat.

Thank you again for making one old minister very happy. God's best for the Council.

Wife, Celia Lotridge

P.S. We so much miss seeing our friends.

****

On the same day of his recognition at District Council, a bouquet of flowers was sent to the Lotridge home, reminding him of our remembrance of their faithful service through the years.

A few days later, a pastor friend and I visited their home in Bakersfield to personally present the 50-Year Certificate, along with the appreciation of fellow believers for their service to the Lord.

As we left, following a few tears and many added stories of God's faithfulness, Celia Lotridge, 88 years young, handed over a letter she had written to herself a few days earlier. It read:

****

It was just a bouquet of flowers that was delivered to my door Wednesday, April 24, 1991. Yes, only a bouquet of flowers, exceptionally large and beautiful. I know it was expensive, but really how much was it worth?

My husband has been ill for six years. So far I had been able to cope with the stress of a normal day, but this was not a normal day. The nurse came early. It was not even her day to come. She was followed by the one who bathes my husband. Both of them required medical supplies, towels, sheets, and other necessities to be ready for use. I stopped washing the dishes to attend to these needs. This duty was interrupted by the arrival of a visitor and I can't recall the numerous times I had raced from one room to another to answer the phone. Some calls were the wrong number, some were just wanting to sell something, but some were more serious and required thought before answering.

The doorbell rang again; a fireman entered; took big steps into the hall. He had come to install a smoke detector. As he left, I followed thanking him. At the door I met the yard man, who needed to be paid.

It was in the afternoon when a recess came. I fixed a lunch. We ate. I pushed the dishes aside, but still sat there, tired and depressed. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Slowly I started to pray. Then suddenly it dawned on me, like the rising of the morning sun, that my mountain of self pity had not only washed my face with tears, but had also washed my soul of its strength, "the joy of the Lord."

I felt I was sitting alone with God when once again the doorbell rang. I reasoned to myself, who in the world could this be? I opened the door and faced a young woman holding the most beautiful and largest bouquet I had ever seen. "Oh!" I remarked. "Those must be for one of our neighbors. They can't be for us." Again I looked at the lady, the flowers and the flower truck in the street. "Isn't your name Lotridge? Isn't this your address?" "Yes," I answered quickly and took the bouquet to my husband's bed. Together we read the card: "To Reverend Ralph Lotridge for 50 years of ministerial service in the Assemblies of God. From your friends in the Southern California District."

I took the bouquet to the dining room table. Again I sat crying. My daughter arrived from work, looked at the bouquet, then at my tears. Bewildered, she was afraid to ask what was wrong, thinking perhaps someone had died. I sensed what she felt. "Read that note. I am crying for joy. God loves me. He chose the exact time, the exact place to tell me so."

Yes, it was just a bouquet of flowers, but can you tell me what it was worth?

****

I tucked the letter in my pocket, a gift beyond words, and on the return trip home prayed a simple prayer: "Lord, let me never be so busy that I forget to remember the hands that dug the well!"

— T. Ray Rachels is an executive presbyter of the Assemblies of God and served as superintendent of the Southern California District of the Assemblies of God for more than 22 years.

 

 

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