A couple of weeks ago I kept thinking about an old friend of mine everyday. She is not someone I speak to daily but everyday I would think about her and everyday I had the good intentions of sending her just a quick message to let her know God was putting her on my heart to pray for her. Finally, by Friday night I sent that message – just a “quick hello” message.
That Sunday my friend wasn’t at church. I asked about her and her husband said she wasn’t feeling well. The following week passed by, uneventful as usual. The weekend came and my husband went to go visit a friend Saturday morning. When he returned home he had a book his friend let him borrow for me to read. It was aptly titled “Call It Incredible, The Ron & Susanne Cox Story” by Mark Nichols Sims. I was thrilled and dove right in to reading. While my friends watched both the Alabama and Auburn football games, I was sitting reading this book. Pastor Ron was my grandmother’s pastor at Kingwood Church in Alabaster, AL. I remember when I was a young child going to church with her and seeing this larger than life man going back and forth behind the pulpit preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember when my Grandmother would clean the church every week and I would go with her, I couldn’t wait to play under the pews.
My friend who had been on my mind a couple of weeks before is Pastor Ron’s oldest daughter, Stacey. We grew up knowing each other. We ran in the same circles on occasion and every now and then she would spend the night at my house. Then as many teenage friendships go, life took us separate ways. Since I have been at Kingwood Church, my old friend Stacey and I have began to rekindle an old friendship. We don’t talk personally much but old friendships are kind of like bicycles, they just come natural sometimes.
Yesterday morning at church, the worship service was awesome. You could feel God’s presence. At one point I looked up and I saw my husband and Pastor Ron standing beside each other, not on purpose as I’m sure they did not even realize. There were many people standing around but I noticed these two men. We are studying gratefulness at church this month. The songs and the sermons are all pointing toward being grateful to the Lord. I was looking at these two men praising the Lord, having just read Pastor Ron’s testimony and knowing my husband’s testimony, and my heart was overwhelmed. My heart was overwhelmed at the Lord letting me see His mercy, not only through my life, but through the life of others as well. As the tears flowed, I was overwhelmed at God’s mercy and love for all of us; I was grateful.
Then there was last night’s church service. To put this service into words is really impossible. The feeling of being a part of something so much bigger than you and on the other hand the intimacy of being part of a church family who truly cares about the lives of others, both in their community and in their church, is something that can only be experienced.
My friend Stacey is now married to the pastor at Kingwood Church. After Pastor Ron retired Pastor Jay picked up the reigns and is carrying on the legacy. Pastor Jay is a humble, spirit filled man who has a servants heart. He has a heart for God and shepherd’s the Lord’s flock (us) through wisdom, strength and knowledge that can only come from the Lord. Kingwood is so blessed to have him as our leader.
Last night toward the end of the service, Pastor Jay and Stacey stood up and made an announcement. They made an announcement that tied the last two weeks together. The small things that may have seemed somewhat “uneventful” to some became yet another overwhelming climax in my walk with the Lord. Even last week at our prayer meeting, Pastor Ron, his wife Susanne and another couple that I know they are good friends with came on my heart. It was just a feeling of bitter sweetness that I didn’t really understand but began praying for them. Please keep in mind, I don’t really know them personally but when God puts someone on your heart its for a reason – to pray for them.
So the announcement came. A bitter sweet announcement. Bittersweet because while it was not “good news”, the love in the sanctuary was Heaven pouring out mercy and grace upon all who were there. The announcement that came was that Stacey has been diagnosed with the beginning stages of Huntington’s disease. The same terrible disease that afflicted her Mother and now afflicts her sister, Tiffanni.
You see, God showed me His mercy first. The Lord caused my husband to bring that book home for me to read. He caused me to read the entire book except for the last couple of chapters before last nights service. This book was a testimony of God’s grace throughout both Pastor Ron’s and Susanne Cox’s life, including the terrible disease that afflicted his first wife, Glenda. He (the Lord) caused me to notice His mercy and grace on Pastor Ron and my husband during yesterday morning’s service.
What the enemy has meant for evil, God has turned into an outpouring of love amongst a family of brothers and sisters in Christ. What the enemy has meant for evil, has caused the cords of prayer and faith to be knit together even tighter.
Today I am grateful to the Lord for unveiling my eyes to His mercy and grace. I am thankful for the church family He has picked for me and for allowing me to be a witness of His glory in their lives. Thank you Pastor Jay and Stacey West for allowing me to see His strength through your testimony. Thank you both for allowing me to witness His glory in the coming days. – Donna Warren