Exodus 32:18 – And he said, it is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. (KJV)
Taking on a group of teenagers who may be teetering between questioning or adopting their religious beliefs would be daunting for many, especially — one would think — for a young, newly married minister.
It might have been easier, perhaps, back in the 1960s with no inkling of cell phones, computers, or the Internet. But keeping kids on track, spending time with a weekly youth group, with weeks away at summer camp, combined with a minister's general duties, must surely have posed their own set of challenges.
It can't have been easy for his wife either, spending time alone when not involved in activities with parishioners that were expected of a minister's wife, especially in that small northern town five provinces away from friends and family in the east and devoid of the amenities in the established city from which they'd come.
So it was for our new minister and his wife when I was a teenager. How did he inspire us and keep us interested? With his guitar. We sang at youth group, we sang in church, we sang around the campfire … and we affectionately dubbed him "Ferlin" after the well-known country and western singer, Ferlin Husky.
He selflessly spent time with us, listened to us, and even encouraged me when I re-wrote hymns to fit our times … things that are badly needed in today's "me" society, where people are more interested in what's on their phone than who is right there wanting and needing their attention.
He was much loved and respected by young and old alike, but as life goes, he and his family moved back east, and most of us "kids" also moved away.
Although we are all well past middle age, we have kept in touch over these last 50+ years, and he is still soothing souls with his music and, I suspect, with his way of "preaching without preaching".
Those who dedicate their lives to guiding others in their spiritual journey have a tough job. It cannot be easy to find the words to keep others inspired every Sunday. It cannot be easy to comfort those experiencing things so tragic as to feel that there is no comfort. It cannot be easy to make oneself available anytime day or night to connect with those who are disconnected.
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (KJV)
These words must surely resonate with all the "Ferlins" in the world who have felt that special call to serve the Lord in a myriad of capacities.
Prayer: We give thanks to You, oh Lord, for those who hear Your call and choose to minister to Your people, especially those who accept the challenge of guiding and teaching the youth of today, who more than ever, have so many things to distract them from You. Through Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "O Could I Speak The Matchless Worth" (Lyrics)