By A. Ray Lee
I was seated at the kitchen table with a second cup of coffee as mama cleared away the breakfast dishes. I had driven home for the Labor Day weekend from Ohio after ten long weeks of erecting prefabricated houses. The summer weather had been hot, the work physically hard and the days were long. My dissatisfaction with the job had grown with each house built.
Those had been lonely weeks. Many of the guys with whom I worked were young veterans who had recently returned from fighting in Korea. I had little in common with them. After work each night they had made the rounds of bars and clubs. I had no interest in those activities so I spent my nights alone in the small room I had rented.
As the days passed, my thoughts had turned to unanswered questions relating to my future. I had given much thought to the possibility of attending college in preparation for as yet undefined Christian ministry. One of my previous college visits had been to Tennessee Temple in Chattanooga. Now I was facing the decision whether to return to Ohio or seek a way to attend college. It would be the most important decision I had made so far in life for the nature of my future would be shaped by it.
Inadvertently, J.J. helped me make that decision as he strode briskly through the back door of the barn where he had been feeding the livestock. Without hesitation he looked directly at me and spoke with the preemptory tone he used when he gave a command which he fully expected to be obeyed and he said, “Get your work clothes on. We are going to pull corn.”
In all my seventeen years I had never openly rebelled against him, however, there had been times when I had masked my displeasure and seethed within at what I had considered arbitrary decisions that demanded my obedience without question. Perhaps suppressed memories of those times inspired my response as I firmly replied: “Not today. I am driving to Chattanooga and enrolling in Tennessee Temple College if they will accept me.” Over his protests I hastily packed my high school graduation suit, a couple pairs of Levis, shirts and personal grooming needs in my old ‘41 Chevy and by 9 a.m. was on my way.
As I drove toward Chattanooga I considered the seriousness of what my decision had set in motion. Doubts arose in my mind. Had I made a rash decision? Could I make it on my own? How would I pay for college expenses? Perhaps the fact that I had earned necessary funds for graduation expenses in my senior year of high school as a bus driver, plus I had spent the last two months totally on my own, had given me the necessary resolve to step out on faith believing that my needs would be provided. My journey in faith would be a long one with many challenges, but I have never seriously regretted that decision.