From time to time, I write some personal articles on this blog, and this is one of them. This past week was a difficult week for me. I had trouble staying focused on my sermon preparation. I was flat, dry, and stressed because “Sunday’s a comin.” On Saturday night/Sunday morning, I was wide awake at 2:00 a.m., so I just got dressed and went on to the church building. Twice this weekend, I had vivid dreams of my dad. They were so real that when I woke up, I had to focus and remember that dad wasn’t with us anymore. So Sunday night, as I watched a little of the Super Bowl, I played “armchair psychologist,” and I think I figured out the reason behind my strange week. This week is lectureship week.
The annual lectureship at FHU has been a “family event” for us since the early 1970’s. Consequently, I have a storehouse of memories. Indulge me as a share a few.
- For the last decade, the Super Bowl fell at the beginning of Lectureship week. That meant that my mom and dad would stop at our house on their way to FHU and I would get to watch the Super Bowl with my dad. I can’t tell you how much I cherish the memory of watching the Steelers win the Super Bowl with my dad in 2005 and 2008. My children remember this as well. They say they saw a side of “granddad” that they never knew existed!
- Mom and dad sat toward the right-rear of the auditorium with their lifelong friends, Pat and Willowdyne Gibbons. For decades, they used the lectureship as a time to “catch up” with each other. Last year, as I attended the lectureship, it was quite difficult for me to look at dad’s vacant seat in the right-rear of the auditorium. This year, there are two vacant seats there. In November of 2014, Pat also passed away.
- As I type this sentence, I paused long enough to count 45 FHU lectureship books on my bookshelf to my right. Those books are all gifts from my dad. It was his practice to buy me a lectureship book every year and give it to me.
- Lectureship week was often a reminder to me of my dad’s commitment to ministry. FHU was 700 miles from Chester, WV. And though this lectureship was a much anticipated “vacation” time for my mom and dad, I can’t tell you how many times through the years, they would arrive at FHU, and due to a death or illness, turn right around and head back home because someone needed them.
- One of the funniest things I remember about this week was when I had just convinced dad to get a cell phone. Throughout the week, too many phones were going off, so a rather stern announcement was made from the podium of the main auditorium to turn off the ringer on all cell phones. Since dad was new to cell phones, I figured he wouldn’t know how to do that, so I got up from my seat, stood in the back of the auditorium, and called dad’s phone. Of course it went off, and 2000 people looked to see who ignored the stern warning from a few moments before. Panicked, dad couldn’t think how to stop the phone from ringing, so it rang several times. Finally, as the phone continued to ring, dad got up, with phone in hand, and headed to the back of the auditorium. As he was walking toward the back, he saw me standing there laughing, and the look he gave me will be forever burned in my memory! It was one of those, “You’ll be sorry for that” looks with a touch of a sheepish, “you got me good” look.
Anyway, I could go on and on sharing memories. I am just thankful I have such memories, and that some of the best memories I have are centered around events relating to the Lord and his church.