Across the road, an auction was going on, and remnants of the last living local person holding the name of Minford was going down the road in cardboard boxes. Of course, that was many years ago in this community of Minford. The CEO Railroad going through Minford in 1916 liked the village blacksmith, who kept equipment repaired and the shoes of muletown mules firmly on the feet of hard-working mules owned by local residents, who kept the mules up the road in muletown to keep down the stench in the higher populated section of the community at that time. A daughter of the village blacksmith, Gladys Minford, was the last to carry the Minford family name in this community. I wonder what history of this local family of the blacksmith Minford, for which this community was named, is now in the homes of others in this neighborhood? I did not attend the auction of Gladys Minford, but I understand it was well attended and quite a big deal in Minford.
Today I looked across the road where her house stood on High Street in Minford, and then Beverly and I turned to walk into a beautiful service of the Minford United Methodist Church. This was the church of Gladys Minford. I knew that my aunt Donafaye Brigner and other familiar names would be attending today. My uncle Adam Brigner is recovering from a recent broken hip, and was not able to be in attendence. I also knew that long-time teacher friends Bob and Karen Hayburn would be there. Of course, in my home community, there were more.
Pastor Dennis Bell was one of several who welcomed us at the door, and he brought the congregation together with prayer. In the latter part of his prayer, he said, “Praise the Lord as we gather, that He will be seated with His arms wrapped around each of us.” Leeanne Denning followed the pastor in opening the church service. Two early hymns included “Awesome God” and “Rejoice in the Lord Always.” Very notable is that their worship includes a flutist, and the sound carried beautifully through the church. Calling it a flute recital, Michelle Webb played “Blowing in the Wind,” and “Be Thou My Vision.” Neysa Risner Riffe was piano player. Her father, Kenneth Risner, is brother to my long-time friend, Darrell Risner, a fellow member of the Lone Eagle Archery Club.
Sitting behind me was one of my long ago 4-H camp counselors and tribal princesses, Amy Essman O’Dell. Many aspects of 4-H Camp remain fresh in my memory. Her dad, George, also sat behind me on this day. Many of the Essman family members have always been great friends. I crossed paths with George many times, as he was a high school principal, and I often carried the 4-H program into local school curriculum. Today, Amy’s son, Colton, and Gaige Dengal served as acolytes in the church program, lighting candles and snuffing them out later. They knew their job well. In between their important role in church, I enjoyed watching them have fun as little boys in church. The pastor’s children’s story was very nice as well. At service end, Pastor Bell gifted both Beverly and me a personally hand-carved wooden cross such as he was wearing on this day. We will proudly wear these at times in the future. Also following today’s service, we had the rare opportunity to go to dinner with Aunt Donafaye.
In opening his sermon, the pastor suggested to the congregation that today’s worship would begin with a reading from 1st Chronicles, verses 4 through 10. “Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me and that You would keep me from evil, that I may cause pain!” Do not pray for tasks equal to our powers. Pray for power equal to our tasks. I believe that God wants to grow the size of our faith to match the size of His destiny for us.
To that, the pastor asked his congregation, how good are our hands? Going on, he said, “We need Gods hands in our lives.” He referred to other studies from the prayer of Jabez.
The pastor’s study pointed out there are three ways to observe God’s hand in our lives. The first way is to observe God’s hands in His nearness. When we have God near us, we must not let go.
2nd Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” What we need most these days is an everyday God.
A second way of observing God’s hand is in His navigation. There are all kinds of risks in life. Most of us like minimal risk. We might want to attempt something large enough that if we fail. God will show up.
Psalm 73:23–24 reads, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you take me into glory.” A helping hand is readily available. God will guide us. God will instruct us.
A third way to observe God’s hand is in his nurture. God surrounds us with His care. Psalm 31:1-5, “In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name, lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit. Redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.” The protection of God’s hands is a place of refuge. They surround us with his protection. We need God’s hand on our lives.
Other points made by Pastor Bell included desire God’s hands, depend on God’s hands and, at the same time, delight in God’s hands.
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
How long has it been since we surrendered our life to God and allowed Him to move through it and in it to the pleasure of His will?
A restaurant put up a sign that said, “All you can eat for $4.99.” A hungry man came in, paid his $4.99 and polished off a huge helping. Then he ordered more and finished that, too. But when he put in his order for a third meal, the waitress turned him down. The man angrily called for the manager and pointed to the sign in the window. “It says all you can eat for $4.99, and I can still eat more!” The manager stood his ground. “Yes, but I am the guy that says that is all you can eat for $4.99!”
Sometimes we may think God is like that, that God is good to His word, but only to a point. Or God wants to bless, but only wants to bless a little bit. Or, we may think that God’s plan for me is probably not important or that His power is rarely available.
But Jeremiah 32:27 says, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Two fish and five loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches. Two fish and five loaves of bread in the hands of Jesus will feed thousands. It depends on whose hands it’s in. Nails in the hands with some would not guarantee anything, but nails in the hands of Jesus brought salvation to a whole world. It depends on whose hands it is in.
His message closed saying that we should desire God’s hands, depend on God’s hands and delight in God’s hands. There is no safer place to be than in God’s hands, and there is no more exciting place to be than in God’s hands. Let us all delight in Gods hands. Amen.
The closing hymn was “I Stand Amazed.” I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned, unclean. How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be: How marvelous! How wonderful! Is my Savior’s love for me!
Stop by and visit all of the good folks who attend the Minford United Methodist Church. As believers, let us share the good news of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world. Each one reach one. See ya in church.
Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.