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The Journey of This Pilgrim, part 3

I've come to love God's word and have had the privilege to study it, teach it to others; but most of all to be transformed by it over these almost 50 years of time that I've given my life to Christ.  I'm now 69 years old and His word is where my faith is founded, where my sin is confronted, where grace is discovered, and my hope is found.  Here's a passage that I love:

Romans 5:6-8
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

While we were still sinners...Christ died for us.  Breathe, relax and release...He's done what I could never do on my own.

As a young boy I had wonderful experiences in a small town.  Fox Lake could have been Lake Wobegon of Garrison Keillor lore where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."
There is a romantic idyllic thinking about growing up in the 50's and 60's in a small town.  Life centered around family, sports, church, school and friends.  It was simple...perhaps for some too simple because young adults often flee the small towns and villages for something more.

I went to Fox Lake Elementary school for the first 7 years - until I was 13.  I had - pretty much - the same classmates for all seven years...there was only 1 class for each grade.  I confess I don't remember them all...some I do.  I don't remember many of my teachers either except those I loved.  Mrs. Peters, Miss Ganske, and our crazy wonderful 7th grade teacher whose name is lost on me who introduced us to Spanish and hispanic customs.  I can still picture, with laughter, one kid who was blindfolded trying to hit the pinata in the center of the classroom.  At the end of seventh grade our school became an elementary school only and we went to Waupun - 13 miles to school on a bus - for Junior and Senior high.

Turning into a teen was accompanied with Puberty.  That awareness that my body was changing.  I still have a picture of my brother and me in some summer, around age 10.  We were as skinny as can be...with t shirts off our ribs stuck out as we posed with some attempt to show off muscles that did not exist.  My brother was about the same weight and height at that time.  By 14, I was 3 inches taller, two shoe sizes bigger, and 20 lbs heavier than him.  We were twins...but the gene pool came from two obvious different sources.

I had my paper route, but I got my first big job at 14.  My father came home one day to announce to me that "Orville Kratz needs someone to work for him and I told him you would do it."  Orville was my dad's friend, and the local funeral home director - the Undertaker is what I remember hearing him called.  This job coincided with my sister marrying Orville's son who became my first of four brother-in-laws.
You don't have to imagine too much to know what I did.  I went with him to hospital mourges, nursing homes, and private homes to pick up dead people.  Once my mom woke me in the middle of the night and told me Orville had called and was picking me up shortly.  I don't remember the time but it was pitch black when the hearse pulled up to the driveway.  He informed me we were headed to a hospital to pick up a body.  It was still dark when we arrived and we went downstairs to the lowest level of the hospital with the gurney to the morgue.  There was a lifeless body stretched out on the table covered with a white sheet.  Orville pulled the sheet off and I gasped...the leg twitched...Orville smiled.  I was ready to high tail and run and he quietly explained that involuntary muscle movements can happen for a period of hours after death.  I was not amused with that knowledge at all.  I worked for Orville for almost two years.

All of this is to say that as a teen I had moved away from any sense of faith in God.  I had decided that Church was boring, the messages uninspiring, the hymns old, and the faith irrelevant.  It was the era of the Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Garfunkle, the Beach Boys, and Vietnam.  It changed the culture I lived in and it changed me.  I accepted the notion of "be free, do your own thing".  The political arena proved confusing.  We began the 60's - I was 11 - with the youngest President ever elected, John F Kennedy.  When he was assassinated I was a ninth grader, sitting in a science class when the loud-speaker came on to tell us he had been killed in Dallas.  We went home and for the first time in my life we discovered round the clock coverage of his funeral.  I ended the 60's with a country at war in a was no one wanted, and a President who would turn out to be a liar.

I was was the Country I lived in...and you know what?  God was stirring the nation with Jesus' people who were discovering life in Christ as the good news.  I was lost, but God...
" just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

That's what came next.


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