Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
One of the fond memories of growing up was the summers we would spend with my father’s parents (Sarah Alice and George Washington Martin) on West Jackson St. in Mayodan, North Carolina. My brother and I were surrounded by all our cousins on the Martin/Sechrist side of the family. We rode bicycles which were really the horses cowboys were riding. We played in the Vaughn’s yard next door, which was really a football stadium (although stadium was not a word we associated with football yet). We played in the field across the street which was where we won or lost the World Series many times over. After Herman and Ruby built their new house we would play the Duke vs Wake Forrest game on their backyard court. Wow! It sure was a great time.
Special times included going to Mr. Wilson’s (Aunt Louise’s father) farm in Madison on Friday night, spend the night, and get up around 4:30 on Saturday morning to go out and prime tobacco till around noon. That afternoon – after we finally got all the tobacco gum off our arms and hands, we would have water melon and home made ice cream.
Some of the other special times were when we got to go see a movie. I remember one summer day I wanted to see the latest movie out “Davy Crockett” starring Fes Parker. I just couldn’t wait. My grandmother told me I could go after I had my afternoon nap. Now let me tell you how naps were handled around the Martin household. Polio was a big deal back then. So the thought was somehow transferred to the kids that if you didn’t take your summertime afternoon nap you may get polio. And we believed EVERYTHING our parents and grandparents told us. That afternoon nap that was to win me a ticket to see Davy Crockett turned out a little different. You see, I was faking the nap, laid there for what I thought was several hours, and then called to Mama Martin that my nap was finished. Just as I was doing that my legs went numb (they fell asleep). I thought: “Oh no, I have polio.” I think my trip to the movies was postponed for a couple of days.
Growing up in my generation some of the best times were Sunday gatherings after church. We would all gather at Mama Martin’s and share in a meal that must have been meant for a king. Usually there were 21 hungry people there. Mama Martin would rise around 5:00 on Sunday mornings to start preparing Sunday dinner. No one could start eating until the blessing was delivered. My uncle Herman was the spiritual leader of the family (eldest son) and he would offer the prayer. Every Sunday he would pray: “Make us true and thankful for these and all other blessing, in Christ sake. Amen.”
My uncle Herman was a very spiritual man who lived, as best he could, a spiritual life. He was my best man at my wedding. I dearly loved, respected, and admired all my aunts and uncles. They lived lives of faithful influence which touched the lives of others with the grace and love of God.
Last Friday evening Shirley and I took Noah, Abby, and their friend Caldwell Smith to the Indoor Sports Arena here in Greensboro. After about an hour of constantly playing soccer we took them to Wendy’s for dinner. We always say a blessing before we eat, even in restaurants. Usually Noah and Abby join together to say the “God is Great” prayer. However, on this particular night Noah said (without falter) my uncle Herman’s prayer. Needless to say, I was very touched by this, I think because it said to me that the torch was being passed on to another generation of receptive and faithful servants – my grandchildren. Noah and Abby are good kids who always go to church and always try to do the proper thing. Faith matters to them. I pray that Noah and Abby will grow up – continue in their faith – and become people who positively influence others for Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what we wish for all our children?
Dear Lord, I thank you for the witness of my family; aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and grandparents. They lived before us a life of faith in Christ so real that it touched our souls and made us long to be like Jesus. May we pass on that same torch of faith to our children and grandchildren, from generation to generation… Amen.