Strengthen the Things That Remain (Chapter 11, Pages 66 - 69)
It was my senior year in high school. Charm was in junior high, Ted and Marilyn were both in grade school. Mother was working at the Bon Marche department store by this time and helping daddy in the office. There had been a steady growth in the church since moving to Latah Street. The unfinished balcony had now been finished, and was nearly filled. The Sunday School rooms were all bursting and the facilities were going to have to be expanded somehow. God's blessing was upon the congregation.
My parents went for a drive one day, when one of the tires went flat. Daddy couldn't get the jack to work, so with his great strength, he lifted up the little English Ford Anglia, and held it up while mother changed the tire. This wasn't the first he head held up a light car but this time he didn't feel well afterwards. Several days later, he went to the doctor who told him to rest. He continued to grow weaker and finally went to a heart specialist. The specialist told him to report immediately to emergency. He had experienced a mild heart attack, but because he had waited, infection had set in and was raging through his body. By the time he got to the hospital, he was so weak that he could not even pick up his watch. He was out of his pulpit from the day after Easter until June.
One of the church board member, who had felt the call of God on his heart for the ministry but, up to that time, had not gone into full-time service, stepped forward and told mother and dad, "I believe God has placed me here for such a time as this!" Mother put her shoulder to the wheel, and with the help of that board member, Ed Jones, the congregation united, and together they worked and kept on going. Central Assembly did not even miss a step. In fact, during the time daddy was absent from the church, it continued to grow.
He had never in his life experienced any kind of nervous problem. He was the kind of person who, when he wanted to go to sleep, simply closed his eyes, and was asleep. But now, even the very gentle closing of a door would seem to go right through him. This strong giant of a man experienced such weakness that the day he could finally pick up his watch again was a real thrill. Once again, God was teaching him a lesson through trial. His capacity to understand people with nervous problem and people who were weak in body expanded. He was learning compassion for problems which before he might not have understood.
During the many weeks or recuperation, the Lord brought this phrase to his mind over and over again, "Strengthen the things that remain. Strengthen the things that remain!"
As daddy meditated on the meaning of the phrase the Lord had so burned on his heart, he began to search the scriptures and he discovered the Lord was talking about the things that would last for eternity. The Lord illuminated to his heart that those things which would remain were his relationship to God and family ties. He became even more aware of his own family, although he had always cherished every one of us. He had a new awareness of the things that really are important to God.
Years later, daddy shared with me that as the angel Gabriel, was giving him these beautiful truths from God's Word, he reminded him of that time in the hospital when God spoke to him about the importance of the family. Gabriel told my father that he was there as God continued to unfold His great plan in his life.
The keynote of all the messages brought by the angel from God was God's care and love for people, as evidence by the sacrifice of Jesus. Over and over again, this message was given to daddy through divine messenger from many different portions of the bible. He was reminded of how God portrayed His plan for the family in the Old Testament in Exodus 30:12-16, and Exodus 38:25-28. At that time, God wanted the name of every head of the house and his family included in the gate of the tabernacle. So, now, through the sacrifice of Jesus, He reserves a place for the whole family but each member must individually be born again. The angel shared with daddy that if one person in the family was saved, the entire family was highly favored because of the prayers of this one individual. The angel said that he was now leading a host of angels to clear the way, to scatter the enemies, to move away the roadblocks, and to let people know that the heart of the Father is warm toward them!
After recovering from this heart attack, daddy returned to his pulpit, and was soon vigorously back to work for the kingdom. As a result of the way the Lord dealt with him during the time he was recuperating, his family counseling ministry began to expand. In his messages to his people, he began to stress the things that were really important to God, the things that would last for eternity.
When the church moved to its new location on Latah, daddy felt it would be good to have the family move closer to that area. The first house the Buck family moved into near the church was brand new, but it was very small. It had three bedrooms for a family of eight. Mother's parents had come to live with us for a while due to the illness of my grandfather. Daddy made the garage of the new house into a bedroom, but it was still very close quarters.
He came home one day brimming with excitement. He had found a fabulous deal on a house! It had four bedrooms, a full basement, with possibilities for a family room, a huge yard with lots of shade trees and a swimming pool! Talk about an excited family, especially the four of us children!
What a place for teenagers! The parsonage became the center of activity for all the young people, especially during the beautiful, hot, lazy days of summer.
The people in the church worked hard, but when it was time to play they had a good time.
Some of the people in the church were practical jokers, and at one of the Sunday school picnics they had a good one to try on my dad. He loved cream puffs, so someone baked the most beautiful batch and brought them to the picnic. One of those gorgeous cream puffs, however, was full of Tobasco sauce. This special treat was offered to daddy. Everything got really quiet except for a snicker here and there as he took a giant mouthful of cream puff. The eyes of the practical jokers got bigger and bigger, as he exclaimed how delicious it was, and without even blinking, finished it off and licked his finger. He had turned the practical joke on them.
The next day, however, he was really sick. But even in his misery, he told me he thought it was worth it to see the look on the faces of those people, as they waited, and waited, and waited.
Next: The Orb of Truth