By: Waylon Bailey
I want to thank the membership of First Baptist Church Covington, Louisiana, for graciously allowing us to be away during the month of July each year.
I’ve joked with you before how I turned that opportunity down for several years (that’s a fact, not a joke). After our first year, we came back and asked that you please let us do this again.
This year has been especially helpful for us.
Let me bring you up to date about our situation.
You may remember that Martha has three siblings who were all teenagers when she was born. The youngest of those three (Rose) passed away early in June of this year. Her oldest sister has experienced difficulty for most of her life. After Rose’s death, it become clear to us that Betty Jean (the family calls her Jean and everyone else calls her Betty) and her 50 year old son would not be able to care for themselves much longer. As we left for our July away that problem became acute, and we have spent most of our month caring for her and helping them get situated.
We will be bringing her to Louisiana, hopefully to be cared for in one of the local nursing homes. Her son will live with Martha’s brother in Georgia.
This has been a trying month, and we want to share how God has been faithful through this process.
First, we have been sustained by the prayers of God’s people. Some of you have known of this and have prayed. We appreciate your prayers. We had two individuals who called us early on to tell us they were burdened for us. They had no idea what was happening but simply knew they needed to pray for us.
Thank you for those who prayed specifically and for those of you who make it a habit to pray often for your pastor.
Second, we have been sustained by God’s presence. God has taught us many lessons during this month. It has been a gratifying time knowing that God was going before us.
One of the lessons centered around trust. We quoted Proverbs 3:5-6 again and again: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” We continue to cling to this promise. We have seen God clear our path, and we thank Him for it.
Third, we are amazed at God’s timing. All of this unfolded the day after I preached my last Sunday in June. We have been blessed to have the time to attend to family matters–time which you granted and time which God blessed.
Fourth, we know that our life has changed in some sense. Martha will face daily responsibility for her sister. We will be called to make decisions which we did not have in the past.
This month has been a very difficult time.
We have seen many of you handle this responsibility admirably, and we are grateful for your example.
Finally, we know that the God who has been with us this month and for all our lives will be with us in the future. “O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.”
Have a great week!