10 years ago I had asked my oldest daughter to write about a very special adventure. I was reminded of this story when Manette posted about “Dad Help”. When I looked up this old story I see that Manette, Mandy (Blue Collar Theologian) and David (David’s Daily Dose) had already read it. Wow. It’s worth sharing again and very much worth going to Manette’s story and illustration as well (Click here). I share this again to make an important encouragement at the end of this story. This is how and why Christianity works in this world today. Just look at all the dynamics and add your good thoughts and insights.
By Tracy DeMarse
Do you ever look back and notice crazy threads that somehow seem to keep showing up in your life? Like knowing a different couple named “Mike and Julie” in all five cities you’ve lived in so far? Or no matter how many job changes you have you always seem to have a boss named “Mitch”? For me it usually involves “Green River.”
The first Green River was a small town in Utah. Wikipedia tells me its population is around 973. It is miles away from any other large town and surrounded by cattle and desert. It is also where the alien planet scenes from Galaxy Quest were filmed. My husband and I had been married for about a year and were headed to LA for his summer internship when our truck broke down there. Actually, it didn’t just break down; the engine overheated and then melted back together in a big useless metal lump. The local mechanic said he could get to it in a week or so. We checked into a hotel, called our parents to tell them our situation and then just sat back to try to figure out a game plan. Twenty minutes later the local church pastor was at our door inviting us to dinner with his family.
Talk about word getting around fast in a small town. Actually, my Dad had gotten out his invaluable little black book and started making a few calls. Who would have guessed that a girl from Northern Minnesota could find a connection in Green River, UT? But, truth being stranger than fiction somehow the dots had connected. It turned out my great-aunt had a cousin who knew a guy… Yeah, seven degrees of Gary Fultz had provided the pastor of the only Christian church in town. He turned out to be a very gracious host with a lovely wife and three kids that all helped to make what did end up being a week-long stay an actually memorable and even pleasant experience.
At the time my young self just sort of floated through the week and said that was fun and went on with life. Learn something? Was I supposed to? Recalling now all that they did for us I am so amazed at the kindness of strangers. They helped us get a used engine from a town on the Colorado border to save quite a bit off the mechanic’s bid and put us up in a house the church owned in exchange for mowing and cleaning. I got to lead praise and worship music with their small congregation; another new experience. We didn’t have to cover many of our meals because we were invited over for dinner by multiple members of the church. We even spent Mother’s Day with the entire extended family of a local cattle rancher. Everyone got their own very large and very fresh stake right off the grill. Yum!
It wasn’t all fun and games, it did come with quite a price tag to fix up our truck and we arrived a week late for the internship. But, those are the things that now seem inconsequential. When I think of that week, I have fond memories. Family games, bike rides with the pastor’s kids, long walks with my husband, and being welcomed and showered with hospitality when we could offer virtually nothing in return.
I can’t help but wonder had the tables been turned if I would have gone to such lengths for the young stranded couple in my town? I was shown a wonderful example of individuals willing to be the hands and feet of Christ. I got to experience being on the receiving end of that in a time of need. How would that week have felt without their willingness to serve?
The end of the same summer found us breaking down yet again in Green River. This one was a town in Wyoming. It was the middle of the night and nothing was open until morning. We spent the night on the side of a highway in a cold, cramped truck that shook every time traffic blew by us. By morning we were stiff, sore and exhausted. However, we were pretty close to the nearest town and the mechanic was helpful and friendly. It was just the water pump and he could fit us in right away. He called over to a local hotel that let us crash there and sleep while for just a few dollars. A second Green River experience had been another small example of people making the load a little lighter. Coincidence? Is there such a thing?
Fast forward a decade or so and our young family of four is moving to a small Kentucky town located on, yes, the Green River. Once more finding ourselves miles from home and trying to navigate new surroundings. Once more being taken under the wings of some wonderful Christian women and loved, nurtured and upheld as I got my bearings. I thank God once again for the willingness of those women to be his hands and feet and show me around town and lead me along while I adjusted to a new place and new roles. James tells us that “Faith without works is dead.” Does that mean that works are tied to salvation? No. Read the rest of the book, salvation itself is in no way tied to anything we could ever do, but the ever practical James is telling us like it is, that actions speak louder than words and true faith will show itself. As I reflect I am challenged. This thread is not new. Jesus himself demonstrated time and again what it should look like. This is my Green River, the servant thread being woven into my life. I need to be open and willing to be those hands and feet and to show my faith in those practical ways; to serve. I’m still here by the Green River, so God must have a few things planned for me. Maybe I can be His hands and feet in someone else’s “Green River”. Do you have a crazy thread? What is being woven into your life?
Now Gary’s notes:
Here’s the “Dad” side of the story. Tracy called and told me their predicament. I hope you can follow this trail...I called an uncle who pulled trailers to deliver all over the united states to ask him if he had any contacts in Green River Utah. He said no but his wife had an uncle who was a missionary, then pastored a couple years with the church there. I was able to get ahold of my aunts uncles number and called. They didn’t know anyone as the pastor was new but had the church parsonage number. I called and the pastors wife was in so I told her our daughters plight and their names and that they were at the hotel going for a swim in the pool to figure things out. She said “We will take it from here” She called her husband and asked him to pick up a young couple in room 8 at the hotel and invite them to supper. So the famous knock and the door with a pastor asking a young couple over for supper began an adventure for our kids as well as the church. And, Yes, all those numbers went into my little black book of connections I get teased about by family. They never did figure out the trail of the true tale I just told, and that’s ok.
I have recently been able to say to several people going through very hard times “Be encouraged, God is working behind the scenes” I can say that with 100% conviction because God was using myself and some others to correct a problem. We were a part of Gods solution. An old couple (both crippled but still home) down the road will soon hear these words as their roof is so bad it’s caving in. No money, no firewood for winter and the list goes on. Their adult kids do not care but a small group of us are planning how to take care of the problem. They do not know it yet. God has tapped us on the shoulder and we have said “Yes”.
Jesus said a lot of things like that. He knows what’s happening behind the scenes to the end of the age and also to the end of our lives. We should believe him. If someone says to you “be encouraged, God is working behind the scenes, you should believe them. I hope you get to say that to somebody very soon, because you have inside information. Because God has tapped you on the shoulder and you have already said “Yes”
Thank you for reading. For at least 3 of you…rereading.