Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dad At Twenty-one

I wish I had known my dad when he was younger but we know that isn't possible. But this was pretty good anyway! It's from May 16, 2012.

I like surprises, at least most of the time. Last week, I received the following e-mail out of the blue:
The article in the Christian Chronicle last May was of great interest to me. I read that your father was Roger Hawley, and he baptized me in May of 1950. We lived at Cypert, Arkansas and attended a very small country congregation.  It is still there, and has become small again. Back then, our preachers were always students or teachers from Harding College in Searcy.

Your father, as I recall from a 12 year old's memory, was very tall, thin, and had deep-set eyes. Your photo makes me think you resemble him.  Each time he gave an invitation, I "assumed" it was for only me as most other people in attendance were members.  It took me quite a while to get up the courage to go even those few short steps to the front!  I didn't want to be immersed in a river with snakes, which is where most of our baptisms were done, always in summer. But the church in West Helena had recently gotten a baptistery, so I requested that we go there. It was Mothers' Day; everyone went home and ate lunch first. Just a few years ago on Mothers' Day, I was proudly watching my young granddaughter be baptized in Atlanta.

Our daughter, who lives nearby, lived in Houston when she first got out of college in Memphis.  Her job was with Shell Oil Company and she attended the Westbury congregation.  There she became engaged to a young man in the young singles group. However, both of them later got jobs in Phoenix and eventually they broke up.

 I have seen articles about your uncle (Monroe) at times, but only found out in recent years where your parents were.  Your father passed away before I ever got a chance to contact him. There must have been many, many baptisms performed by him after mine!

 Barbara Jackson Frazier 
Sugar Hill, GA.

Sister Frazier kindly gave permission for me to use her words and memories. There were several reasons I loved her message. You have to love the mental image of dodging snakes during baptisms, which I can visualize after many  years of tramping family land in Arkansas! I love that she remembered it was Mothers' Day when Dad baptized her and how she tied it into the new birth of her own grand daughter, also on Mothers' Day. I am intrigued with the fact she knew my folks as newlyweds and perhaps never saw them again as they moved to Brooklyn not long after her baptism and how she assumed the invitation at the end of the sermon was singling her out. But what really gets to me is that my father had just turned twenty-one only three months before he had such an impact on this girl's eternal life. At twenty-one, I was.....well, some of you knew me then and discretion requires me to shut up. As I read her note, I swelled with pride a little remembering Dad and what a terrific preacher and man of God he was. He took it more seriously earlier in life than I did and Dad had one distinct advantage over me- my mother who was his perfect match. Maybe we all have a Sister Frazier in our life, who we blessed without recognizing the depth of the influence at the time. And maybe, we all have a Roger Hawley who preached the sermon, either verbally or non-verbally, that changed the course of a life which changed the course of many lives. It's within all of us. I thank God for Sister Frazier reminding me of what you and I can be. I need that reminder daily.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon."
Mark Twain

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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