The familiar road that leads to Zion

by | April 20, 2017 7:30 am

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl

My wife and I had our first pastoral experience at Zion Baptist Church in Rex, Kentucky, while studying at The   Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville. Except for the summer, when we lived in a beautiful old farmhouse on the church field, we made the trip every weekend.

You may know where Louisville is located. Perhaps   you’ve been there. But you probably do not have the faintest idea of how to get to Rex, so I’ll give some simple directions, just in case you ever decide to visit there.

Coming south from Louisville, or north from Bowling Green, take the Horse Cave Exit from I-65. Go through Horse Cave, heading east toward LeGrande then turn north on Jackson Highway. Passing the area where Wigwam Village used to be, go through Bear Wallow and Uno. Turn right onto Bunnell Crossing Road. About a mile further you will find Rex. Can’t miss it!

That path, as kids in the 70’s, brought us to some of the most memorable experiences of our ministry. I chose the term “as kids” carefully. Sammie celebrated her 20th birthday right in the middle of the year and a half we shared with the wonderful folks at Zion Baptist Church. Our parishioners were so very patient with their young pastor.

To share our memories of the time spent at Rex would require volumes. I have written about a few experiences there, and maybe someday I’ll share more. For now, allow me to draw one picture from the past, a picture of two young ladies, crossing the road to attend church at Zion. Anna Mary Carter and her sister, Glenda, lived across Rex Road from the church. Their home was one of two houses at the crossroads. On the other two corners were the church and a deserted store building.

Try to imagine with me as I rerun the video imbedded in   my mind. Two young teenaged girls, one with sandy-reddish hair, the other a brunette, are headed for the back door of the church. Faithfully, Sunday after Sunday, they make the short trek. They never miss – unless providentially hindered.

One important detail – the brunette is in a wheelchair. The younger sister pushes her across to the ramp their father had installed at the rear entrance to the building. Acts of love! A birth defect, spina bifida, slowed Anna a bit, but her determination and faith prevented her condition from stopping her.

When we left Zion, we lost track of the Carters and others at our first little church, but recently, I learned that when Anna turned 18, she boarded a plane and flew to California…ALONE…where she had a single contact. She spread her wings in California and later in Arizona where she met and married Michael. For the rest of her life, she and Mike served the Lord together, faithfully.

Earlier this year, Glenda tracked me down and contacted me via email. For most of her adult life, Glenda has worked for the federal government. With those kind of connections, I’m sure she can track down anyone. Anyway, she gave me an abbreviated update of those years that have flown by. She told me how Anna Mary had been able to overcome her handicap and live independently all these years. Like the Apostle Paul, Anna knew, “I can do all things through Christ, the one who gives me strength.”

After an amazingly complete life, last fall Anna left this world to be with Jesus. Glenda’s plan was to return Anna’s cremains for burial in Horse Cave and hold a celebration of her life, at Zion, on April 1, Anna’s birthday.

So, after all these years, with all these memories, with great anticipation and slight apprehension, we drove over familiar roads, past new houses, old churches and cemeteries, through beautiful rolling farmland…to Zion. Pulled into the parking lot we joined a large crowed who had gathered to honor her memory. The memorial was so moving. We sang praise songs and listened to stories of how Anna had continued to inspire those who knew her later in life, as she had inspired those of us who knew her in her younger days. What a wonderful joy to know, by faith, that she is no longer tethered to a wheel chair. She’s walking…no dancing…on streets of gold.

Compared to Anna, any obstacles I have had to face in this life have been miniscule bumps in the road. Thank God for reminding me of her example.

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