The end of one year and the beginning of a new one always present an opportunity for reflecting on the past. As I take this opportunity, my memory lingers back beyond the past year, and I find that it is the good things that I remember most. There have been so many people who have done so much for me and my family that it is truly overwhelming.
The memories of those kindnesses toward me and my family provoke me to do something for all those good people, but what can I do? Some of them have gone on to their rewards, and some of them are far away from me. I suppose all they would really want is for me to remember them and to imitate their good examples, which I will try to do. When Mary anointed the Lord with oil, He said, "Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her” (Matt. 26:13). Therefore, as it is my privilege to pen this article, I will follow the Lord's example and write a few words about some of those who have been kind to me. I hope that you will indulge me in this unusual theme, and maybe you will take a moment to remember some of those who have been kind to you.
Of course, I remember my father and mother who gave me birth, sustenance, protection, and so much more. Who can ever repay his or her parents for all they have given? Next to God, who deserves more honor than our own parents (Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:2)? Likewise, there are many others of my family to whom I owe so much. I could never recount all of the kindnesses they have done and continue to do for me.
I remember the years of kindnesses shown to me by my dear wife, who continues to serve me and our children every day. I remember the ongoing kindnesses of my wife's parents, who have embraced me as their own. I remember the kindnesses of my own children, who are a joy and a delight to me.
I remember the kindness of the members of the Jere Whitson Road church when I was in college in Cookeville, TN. Loren and Helen Stephens became like parents to me, which they also did for all of the students who were passing through for a few years. I remember the hospitality of Wayne McDonald and his family and the sweet gift of Beulah Gentry, who has passed on.
In Houston, Texas, I remember so many who were kind to me. I remember Harrison and Karen Banks, who invited my wife and me for Thanksgiving dinner when we had nowhere else to go. I remember the late Nona Brown, who left so many sweet messages on our answering machine just to say she was thinking of us. I remember the members of the Oak Forrest church of Christ, who let me cut my teeth on their ears when I started preaching. I remember Elizabeth Rigby, who gave me $300 to buy a set of Pulpit Commentaries (which I still have). I remember Gynella Brazier, who wrote a poem for every sermon she heard me preach (no kidding!). I remember the late Eunice Chastang, who gave a gift to my family that will affect us for the rest of our lives.
There are so many others that deserve to be remembered by me. I remember so many who have "showered” my wife and me with gifts when we were married and when we had our children. I remember how the members of the North Sumner church in Portland, TN, supported me in every way for over five years as I preached to them. I remember how Delton Porter was (still is) like a father to me, encouraging me in my preaching. Likewise, I remember how Frank Chumley took on that same role for me when I moved to Creekview. (I miss him so much.) I remember the ongoing kindnesses of the members at Creekview, who lift me up week after week as we work together for the Lord. I remember the kindness, hospitality, and generosity of so many brethren in the Lord in places like Rogersville, AL, Lock Haven, PA, Lawrenceburg, KY, Americus, GA, Nashville, Joelton, Springfield, and many other places.
Most of all, I remember the Lord Himself who created me, sustains me, and died to save me from my own sins. I also remember the one who brought me to the Lord, whom I will not mention by name in respect for the modesty of this person. I remember all of those who have helped me to grow in the Lord, those who have been patient and forgiving with me, and those who continue these kindnesses.
This is by no means a complete list of the people who have been kind to me, for I could never write the whole list in my lifetime. If there is a point to all of this for you to remember, then it is this: remember the kindnesses done to you and those who did them. Forgive and forget the offenses done to you, but remember the kindness. Forget the kindness you may have shown to others, but remember the kindness shown to you. I thank you for indulging me in my trip down memory lane. Maybe you will be encouraged to take that trip for yourself.
Stacey E. Durham
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