Tennessee Mountain Stories

One Big Family

Clarkrange Baptist Church, 1949 From Remembrances by Luther Atkinson, 1992

Clarkrange Baptist Church, 1949
From Remembrances by Luther Atkinson, 1992

This week I got a call from my Mama that Daddy was having pain in his chest and across his arms.  We headed to the ER and I started praying.  On that drive I also started reaching out to my church family and my circle of beloved Christian sisters with a familiar request, “I need some prayer support.”

It’s safe to say I may have been a little emotional not knowing what the situation would be when I got to the hospital, but thinking about these faithful prayer warriors nearly overwhelmed me with a myriad of emotions I’m hard-pressed to name.  Then the very next day I opened up my devotional and here’s what I got:

…The idea of a universal family sounds very ‘summer of love.’  The ‘flower power’ generation grasped the concept of loving humanity, but they sometimes put more faith in sex and drugs than in God.

The idea of a family in which we are all God’s children is like G.K. Chesterton’s description of Christianity.  It ‘has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and not tried.’ A true family of Christ is still possible.  It begins when we lay aside fear and hold out a hand. (The KJV Daily Devotional, Barbour 2018)

We’ve just passed our Thanksgiving Holiday and jumped right into the Christmas season so family is at the forefront of our minds.  Families can be wonderful and terrible – often at the same time.  The trouble is that families are made up of us foolish and utterly sinful human creatures.  Church families are not a whole lot different than biological families on account of the same kind of people making up both. 

Family is a persistent theme among the Tennessee Mountain Stories – and it’s both kinds of family. Sure on the mountain you are surrounded in the church-house by siblings, cousins and in-laws but there are also lots of non-relations and they are still family if you choose to love and serve them.

Group from Martha Washington Freewill Baptist Church circa 1983

Group from Martha Washington Freewill Baptist Church circa 1983

In the day when the government offered no social safety net and public services were either non-existent or too far removed to rescue an injured child or burning building, then your family and neighbors provided the necessary help.  As helpful as Social Security and fire and rescue squads are, we may have grown a little lazy relying on them to take care of others.

So this week I’m reminded that ‘a man [or me!] that hath friends much shew himself friendly’ (Proverbs 18:24) and I am encouraged to see that we still maintain some of that old-time mountain sense of community, love for our neighbors and readiness to help a friend in need!

And by the way, Daddy’s doing much better now.