Photos by Blakeney Clouse
As the blazing sun beats down on the 99- degree sidewalks of Jasper, Alabama, my mind drifts back to the gentle breeze of Honolulu, Hawaii. A young, tanned, three-year-old is trying to find his way home. His name is Mike, and he has no idea that his mom, dad and most of the naval personnel on the island of O’ahu are looking for him.
Mike will remain missing for about ten hours. In the early hours of the next morning, he will walk to a Quonset hut, located about a mile from his own home. As he knocks on the door, an unknown man answers. Mike asks, “Is this my house?” He is quickly taken home, where a warm bed and a cup of tomato soup are waiting for him. Twelve years will pass before Mike asks his mother about how he got home that night. His mother’s one word answer is “faith.”
Faith is a reality that has directed my life for the last sixty years. The Apostle Paul wrote, “…Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets . . . through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised.”
Christians know that faith in the sacrificial death and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is necessary to have eternal life. I learned to call this transaction “saving faith.” However, the events of my life have helped me to see that there are many applications of faith. Take a trip with me down memory lane, and I will demonstrate some of the various applications.
On a balmy, June afternoon in Panama City, 43 high school students exit from a bus that they have been riding for sixteen hours. Everyone is exhausted. While most of the group finds their rooms in order to rest, four of my friends and I choose to swim in the gulf. We are strongly warned about the undertow, but we do not listen. Soon we are swimming for our lives. I remember offering a prayer of faith, asking that my brother would live. Everything else from the next three hours will always be a blur. Lifeguards arrive with flotation devices and ropes. We are drug from the surf. Five boys went swimming, but only four survive to travel home. This is the day I learn about “surviving faith.” I discover that “faith” alone is not my source of salvation; rather faith in Godbrings me deliverance. I have come to believe that the size of your faith is not as important as the object of your faith. I serve a really “big” God.
In the fall of 1969, my heart is captured by Jane Goodrich, the most beautiful person in the world. Jane is beautiful both inside and out. I am in love and am fairly sure Jane is too. College is already a financial challenge. I had been in the hospital for 21 days during the previous summer. My financial resources are very limited, and I enter college with $300 in the bank. At one point in my sophomore year, I find myself taking a maximum class load, working two “part-time” jobs, and editing the college newspaper. How will Jane and I ever be able to marry? How can I attend graduate school? God chooses this point in life to teach me about “supplying faith.” The Lord reminds me that I am called to be a minister of the Christian faith. I drop everything but my love for Jane, my love for Christ and school. Within a month I am called to the church of which I will be pastor for the next five years. I learn during this time that God will often match our faith with His supply.
As the years pass, Jane and I receive the blessing of two wonderful sons. I am sure you know that parenting can be difficult. As I think about those years, I remember some joys and some challenges. Jed, our oldest son, excelled in school, read voraciously, and became Operations Manager of a company working in the oil fields in the western U.S. I remember the day he broke his leg while helping his brother with a school project, and the night he did not come home on time because of a terrible accident that could have taken his life. Matt, our youngest son, loves sports, received a Masters in Business from Vanderbilt, and is a deacon at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church. I remember the night he hurt his knee in football practice, and the day I had to drive six hours because his car died in Nashville. I have two wonderful “daughters-in-love” and three “Grand” children. Through being a father, father-in-law and a grandfather, God is still teaching me “serene faith.”
This is not the end of my journey, which is why God keeps giving me “sought for faith.” God’s nature is to provide us with the faith that we need, when we ask for it. Keep on looking, seeking and asking. You will find faith. 78