Crossing the Mississippi one summer I wondered how my great-grandparents gathered the courage to pick up their things and the four small children; ride a railroad car to the edge of the Mississippi River; get on a barge and float across it; ride the rail till it ran out in Louisiana and finally get in a buggy to ride to east Texas where grandpa was the doctor for a sawmill. I’m telling you, I would still be in Mississippi. I am not courageous about the unknown. You see, I believe the unknown is a dangerous scary place. Bad things can happen in the future because I don’t know what might happen. It might be really, really bad. I’ll just stay put and stay out of trouble.
What I believe right now creates the world in which I live. So what might be different if I believed I was going to build a city on a strong foundation, on top of a mountain? What if I believed God was going ahead to that mountain and had a drawing of the temple for me to build? What if I believed children and grandchildren would live in a new land, free from persecution, free from the old ways that made some people nobility and some people slaves? What if I believed my children and my grandchildren could own land and raise crops and feed themselves and never be hungry again? What if I believed God was going to give a barren old woman a baby who would become a nation of people? Wow. What if I believed God was going to give a young unmarried woman a baby who would save the world? What if my wild imagination was a word from God?
Right here in Bee County people with courage and hope arrived with the railroad. They gathered in the county courthouse in 1885 for Sunday worship. They called themselves a Christian church – part of the Church of Christ and part of the Disciples of Christ – a uniquely American way of being the Body of Christ on earth. It was as if God used the railroad to bring this unique way of being church to this very place. But that’s not all. The construction of the railroads and finally the trains themselves quadrupled the number of people living here – from 1,082 to 3,720 between 1870 and 1890. The Sarahs and Abrahams of South Texas. People who heard the call to pick up and move to a place where God the original architect and community organizer was planning to do great things.
All those people heard a call to pick up and go – to step out into a future they could not see. That is only possible when I believe the future that is coming will be for the better. If the call I hear is from God and I answer that call I can take a step of faith and move into a future that is coming but not yet here. The future God is making. In faith and by faith, our ancestors have done great things. My family and yours. They showed us how then and I believe they are showing us the way right now.
In this very place families are arriving to start new lives. Some of the young who grew up here heard a call to move to other places. Coming and going to begin something new. Is that not the word we hear in the Bible from beginning to end. Get up and go! Life is urging us now and always to begin again. Now and in the days to come, may the call of God pick you up to a new beginning – even if you never leave home. Amen!