Step into the Garden
How does a young man keep his way right? By conducting his life according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
“Charlie” Beatty was a medium to small man. Wiry. Bronzed skin. His face handsome, serious and wrinkled. Steel-gray hair with streams of silver on each side of his head. He spoke deliberately, with precision.
When Charlie prayed, it was always on his knees. Sometimes stretched out, on his face. He never prayed silently. Always out loud, even when he was alone. If you were in earshot, you could hear him plainly.
As “Minister of Evangelism,” Charlie had an office in our church. A large, old, beautiful church that, a few years later, burned to the ground from an arsonist’s torch. I happened to walk by his office early one morning. I heard Charlie praying in his office, through closed door and frosted glass. I could hear him plainly. He was praying for me. No doubt, he knew I needed such prayer.
His memory holds a special, honored place in my heart.
I was twenty years old – a mere child. Yet Charlie sought me out when I was but a few days old in the faith. He invited me to meet with him regularly. I needed to be “discipled,” he said. So every Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m., we met – for never less than an hour, and often for as much as two.
During these times we talked of my life and experiences as a new Christian, mostly. He showed interest in me. He asked non-threatening, but penetrating questions. Non-threatening? Seems a foolish notion. Charlie didn’t have a threatening bone in his body. He made me feel like I actually mattered. A new experience for me.
And then, Charlie would have me memorize Scripture. Not randomly, but with design and purpose. Each Saturday morning, he would have me quote, with the Scripture references front and back, the verses I had learned that week. Then we would review the verses I had learned before. Every Saturday it went like this. Week after week, after week, for more than a year.
After we talked for about an hour, Charlie would get up from behind his desk, come around to the two chairs sitting in front of it, and get down on his knees. That was the signal for me to do the same. Charlie would pray first, most of the time. Then me. Together, we prayed maybe thirty, forty minutes.
Then we went to “The Park Pantry,” a local restaurant for breakfast; the Word of God, safely locked in my heart.
That was fifty-five years ago.
I look at where I have been in life since then. I look at my life now and I ask, what did those times with Charlie Beatty mean? How did they help mold and shape me into what I am now?
Honestly, I am not sure.
All I can tell you is, it’s still going on. Each day the word of God speaks to me. Each day I enjoy “coffee with God.” Sometimes I think I am less of a Christian, less of a disciple today than I was then. So much life has happened.
Charlie is a young man again now. He is like I was then, only infinitely wiser. He is in a place now where the disintegration of years have no effect. He is up there with Dawson Trotman, the man who started “The Navigators;” a man Charlie greatly admired. He is young, just beginning his life in eternity. I am old in earth years. My bones ache and I weigh too much. Still, I wonder if there are places in heaven where Charlie can get down on his knees and pray? If there is, I wonder if he still prays for me? Lord knows, I need it now as much, perhaps more than I needed it then.
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