Lessons from a church pew

By Joan Clayton

“Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. Make me sensitive to any wrongdoing and may I be a friend to man, helping in any way I can.”
My grandfather’s prayers filled with awe and deep devotion instilled an unforgettable memory in my childhood heart.
This humble man’s sky blue eyes spoke volumes to me, the only granddaughter among seven grandsons.
“Sister Farrar, could you keep the revival preacher this summer?” Granny beamed with pride. “Yes,” she replied to the pastor, “and my flowers will be beautiful by then.”
“Come help me child. Which flowers shall I use?” Granny made me feel important as I joyfully smelled the roses.
Every rack at the back of the pew at that little country church had little funny fans. Air conditioning did not exist. The fans had pretty flowers or mountain scenes painted on cardboard with a tongue depressor stick glued on them for a handle. They had a special place along with the hymnals and everyone used them. They felt good on those hot summer nights.
The next summer Granny and Granddaddy offered to house the revival preacher again. One day Granny said to him, “Remember last summer when I loaned you my comb? I looked everywhere but didn’t find it.
“Sister,” he said, “Look in your Bible.”
Everyone laughed and laughed.
An incident in one summer revival is forever engraved in my memory. An elderly lady had one son, his wife and a husband. They had never come to church with her but she remained faithful, attending every service by herself.
As the altar call had been given and the last refrain ended that night, the lady happened to look back. She saw her only son and daughter-in-law coming down the aisle to receive Jesus. She shouted and ran to meet them, crying all the way. She had no idea her family had come to church. As she hugged and kissed her son and his wife she turned around to see her elderly husband walking that same aisle to accept his savior. Her shouts this time echoed all over church. The scene brought tears throughout the congregation. Her lifetime prayers had been answered.
Memories of faith filled people, living simple godly lives blessed my childhood.
Maybe that’s why I bought an old church pew. I put in my patio. It’s a perfect place to spend quiet moments. Somehow I can still hear beloved hymns and I wonder how many people sat on this same bench, asking Jesus to come into their hearts. How many lives were changed by a simple faith in a loving God?
I think about my heritage and the legacy I have been given. I too, like the lady in church so long ago, look back with tears of gratitude. A lifetime of love in the heart makes the journey worthwhile.
While sitting on my old church pew in my garden, I have come to these conclusions: Never stop praying because the answer is on the way. A life living for Jesus leaves no regrets. Guard your faith. It is your lifeline. A smile instead of a frown makes simple living beautiful. We write our own story on the pages of our lives. Someone reads it, good or bad. Love’s opposite is selfishness that leads to every form of sin, even its own demise. Leave this world better than you found it. Think of all the things you have that money cannot buy. Put God first and all your plans will succeed.
Face each trial with hope and faith in your heart. Without hope, there is no life.
I can only hope I’m able to share with others the joy and hope of a godly blessed life.
I love the view from my church pew!

Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is: