Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Taking the Heat
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
In the past, when my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I travel to the historic town of Oxford, Georgia, to visit my mother, the weather is remarkably cooperative. Yes, there are the occasional showers, but always a plethora of dry, temperate days to satisfy our outdoor inclinations. Whether it's kicking the ball or throwing the frisbee in Mom's extensive yard, or walking the nature trail, Virginia and I traditionally spend more time outside than in.
Not this time around . . .
We are smack dab in the middle of an oppressive heat wave. Temperatures soar to and stay in the 90s for most of each day, making outdoor recreation an undesirable activity. Virginia does venture outside, but stays beneath the shade of the trees. I hate not joining her, but this Gammie does not do well in sweltering temps. I just can't take the heat!
One evening, though, after dinner, Virginia begs me to go on a walk. Yes, it is a few degrees cooler than earlier in the day, but she really has to coax me to acquiesce. "Okay, honey," I say with a sigh, "we can take a walk, but only to the Old Church and back."
Satisfied with this short stroll, Virginia bounds out the door eagerly, as I reluctantly follow behind. We saunter casually and reach our destination, not without shedding a few droplets of sweat along the way. Standing on the walkway to the church, something catches my eye. Is the door to the church open? Yes, it is! I see people moving around inside. "Look, Virginia, that door is open. Let's see if we can go inside so you can see what the church looks like!"
We are welcomed by a gentleman who knew my father when he was alive, and knows my mother well. He is the chair of the Oxford Historical Society, and is showing the church to a couple contemplating getting married there. And what's more, the air conditioner is on. What a blessing!
Of course, Virginia is delighted to look around this simple, yet elegant, building that has seen generation upon generation pass through its doors. Though only used for special occasions now, the Old Church still has a dignified, sanctified feel about it, and Virginia enjoys taking it all in.
See the balcony? Unfortunately, it was closed, so we couldn't explore.
And yes, there are even old timey fans in the pews. Virginia has to try them out!
Once our visit is over, and we are back at the house, I can't help but wonder about Peter. When Jesus commissions him as the rock upon which God's church is to be built, did he even have one inkling as to what that would mean for him? For the generations that would follow?
And how could Peter ever imagine the eventual proliferation of church after church after church in a country that wouldn't be discovered until 1500 years later? Bottom line? He couldn't!
But I like to think Jesus did when He placed that power and authority on Peter's shoulders. Yes, The Way would be persecuted, marginalized, and threatened in its infancy, but it would prevail and flourish as it does to this day, in spite of anti-Christian factions that are rife in our modern, secular culture.
Those flaming, scorching gates of Hades can try every evil in the book to overcome the church, but they'll never win.
Because Jesus, and His church, can take the heat!
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