Are You Who You Think You Are?
Some people do it their way right to the end. Saturday I drove up to Idaville, Indiana to see my niece. As I crossed the Owen County line on Hwy 67, I passed a State Trooper going the other way with his lights flashing. Behind him was a white pickup truck with an American flag on each mirror. I saw what looked like a wooden box in the back. When I checked my rearview mirror sure enough there was a coffin in the back of the truck. It was followed by an extremely long procession of cars and pickups, probably a couple hundred vehicles. As a retired trucker the whole thing got my mind to spinning. The rest of the trip was almost uneventful. At least that was what I thought the case would be. In reality it was just the beginning of several strange events.
The reason I was traveling on Saturday was that I wanted to go to a church near my niece’s house. Normally I would leave Saturday and return Saturday, but is it fall and I decided to turn over a new leaf. Please pardon the pun. The church sign said Church of the Brethren. Over the course of my life I have been to almost every denomination, including Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon and Seventh Day Adventist to name a few. This habit started with my Mom who was always looking for the perfect church. If you read my post, “Church of the Eighty Foot Parking Lot” you will get an explanation of why. The thing that generated my interest in The Church of the Brethren was turning sixty-five and needing a copy of my birth certificate.
When I got the certificate I found my middle name was misspelled. It was Frederick with a “K.” Well it was supposed to be Frederic with no “K.” That is how my Father’s name was spelled and it is the French way of spelling the name. I knew there was a strong French link in my historical chain. At least on my Mother’s side of the family it is. In the course of getting the information to get the certificate corrected I found myself in the family cemetery. It was the one for my Father’s side of the family which is at the site of a former Church of the Brethren, which I have since discovered has a strong German heritage.
That was when the shock really came. All my ancestors up until around 1900 spelled our last name on their headstones Ryon. The thing is that since 1900 it has somehow changed to Ryan. The first names all matched the census records, but not the last name. With names like Asa, Asahel and other Biblical names I was sure I was in the right cemetery and at the right graves because of the birth and death dates. In the course of my research I traced back to my Great, Great, Great Grandfather and found that he received a land grant in Ohio as a member of the Church of the Brethren from Thomas Jefferson for his service in the Revolutionary War which put us in the United States back to at least the 1770’s.
The whole purpose of this genealogy side trip was to explain why I found myself in the Pike Creek Church of the Brethren and the interesting event that transpired. Many would say it was just a coincidence, but I believe in God and there is no such thing as a coincidence. All that happens in our lives is orchestrated by God whether we understand it at the time or not. So with almost a 140 year Brethren heritage it definitely got my curiosity going. It was one of the few churches I had not attended over the course of my almost seventy years of life. So maybe this was another circle closing in my life.
I have had many neat encounters and experiences in the course of my life. There is an experience I call “A Harmony of the Spirits.” Don’t take that wrong. There is only one Spirit that matters, which is Holy Spirit. What I mean by it is that sometimes when I travel I am not sure what kind of spiritual environment I am entering into. Many times over the course of the years I have entered a church or situation of fellowship and found that the Lord prepared my path with His Word, a sermon, tape or even a song I was listening to just before I entered the situation. The situation I find myself in seems to pick up right where what I was listening to before entering the situation left off. It gives me peace that I am in the right place.
That happened for me at Pike Creek when the Pastor Jason Metzinger had a short story in his message that reminded me of my experience from the day before. It was about two pastors who became friends during World War I. One was Catholic and the other Protestant and they became very good friends. As the war progressed the Protestant pastor was shipped to the front lines and killed. Many soldiers knowing of this unique friendship asked the Catholic Priest if the Protestant could be buried in the Catholic Cemetery. The priest had no problem with it, but the higher church boards said it could not be done. So the Protestant was buried just outside the wall. Later soldiers came to visit the grave and had heard the grave was outside the wall. When the soldiers said they could not find the grave the Priest pointed it out to them just inside the wall. When asked how it had been moved the Priest explained, “The board may say who is buried in the cemetery, but I get to say where the walls are placed.” It got some good chuckles.
It also reinforced what I have always believed when I visited those churches I knew nothing about. All the churches claim to believe in and follow Christ. While I may not agree with or understand their doctrines, but I do know some of the people in that church will believe in the same Christ I do. So I will find fellowship, where two or more of us are gathered together. That is why I attend church in the first place.
On the way home I made a side trip to a place called Turkey Run near Rockville, Indiana. The first full week in October they always celebrate the Covered Bridge Festival. There is one particular bridge I always love to go and spend time sitting by Sugar Creek on the sandbar and enjoying nature. Then I realized it was another circle closing. When I got of the Army in 1978, I used my savings account to start a canoe rental service. I had a van and ten canoes and would take student s on the local rivers and then pick them up when they were done and take them back home. In the course of running that business while also being a student I spent a lot of time sitting on river banks contemplating life. Which leads me to another story, but it is too long to put it in this post, maybe later, Lord Willing.
Events in my personal life make me wonder if we are approaching some major event. Time will tell, but Biblically I think the stage is definitely being set for some events mentioned in the Bible.