Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Wisdom from Wendell

Our friend Wendell Garrison has written several devotional books—I am too lazy to run upstairs to the book case and count to be sure if it is four or more or only three.  Of course the latest is on Gerald’s bedside table where he usually reads the day’s entry just before he falls to sleep.  Wendell and Gerald were college roommates; and when they get together, they still laugh about some of their doings in those days—something about that sock monkey named Joe and one of them falling asleep during prayer time. 

When they were dating , we entertained Wendell and his first wife Margaret in our little green house in the country that we rented for $10 a month.  (Rent is cheap when there is no indoor plumbing, and for us newlyweds living a rural life style and starting a family was a dream come true.)  Gerald was finishing up his senior year at Southern Illinois University on the GI Bill and preparing to start grad school that fall at the University of Illinois when they came for dinner.   Katherine had been born in April, and we liked to claim that she was so sweet that she was an encouragement for Wendell and Margaret to marry.  We just made that up, but I suppose such musings are typical of parents enthralled with their first born. Wendell and Margaret went on to seminary and later came back to Illinois where Wendell served as a pastor for many years.  We would occasionally get to see them even though he was eventually working on the Illinois side of the St. Louis municipal area. We kept up through Christmas card exchanges, and once or twice Wendell accompanied Gerald to the East St. Louis stockyards with a truck load of hogs.

After the heart break of Margaret’s death, we were happy for Wendell when he later found Mary. We missed their marriage celebration given by their church because of a terrible snow storm, but eventually we were able to meet Mary and it was easy to understand why she made Wendell so happy.  We especially enjoyed his brief interim pastorate a year ago when he served at Katherine’s church in Marion.  We just regretted that he had agreed to only come for a short period because he had to finish his last book.

For a long time we received monthly mailings from his church with mimeographed copies of his sermons, which he always wrote out at that time. I borrowed from them occasionally for a devotion. I couldn’t tell you where they are, but I may have them someplace in this house.  Or maybe I gave them to our friend Loretta Crosson, who once told me she enjoyed reading sermons.

Most recently on Facebook, Wendell has been sharing one-paragraph devotional thoughts that come as he drinks his morning coffee.  If you want to read more of his thoughts, maybe he would let you friend him.  I didn’t think to ask him that when I asked permission to reprint his yesterday’s devotion in my blog.  I thought it was such an excellent follow up on what I had written yesterday.  There is evil in the world, but we have the ability to choose good. I also liked it that the young woman he wrote about was not only able to rise above her abuse but also used a journal to record her life.  When I encourage people to write, I know how much their writings will mean to their descendants.  Her journal can even bless you as you read her story in Wendell’s brief words of wisdom:

”Sitting by my fireplace, watching the curling flames, sipping tasty coffee, recalling a story that illustrates God's redemptive love, his ability to bring good out of bad: A Kentucky girl at age four lost her mother. Her father remarried. His new wife abused the girl. When she was fourteen, her father gave her and her sister each $12 and put them out on the streets. After her death in 2000, her family found her journal in which she had written that when her boy was born in 1936, she gave him to Jesus. I believe God used her hurts to help her to turn to his redemptive love. That boy became an influential preacher who until his death in 1988 was my wife’s first husband.”

Thank you, Wendell.  By the way, I just now googled and found it is four books that Wendell has written in retirement.  You can google Wendell Garrison also and go to his website, which I wasn't aware of,  to find how to order the last two, which are still available. 

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