I like for things to go smoothly. I'm not much for bumpy rides --whether it's in a vehicle or in a relationship. Yesterday things got a little bumpy. While having a discussion with a friend, things took a turn that I had not anticipated and it got pretty bumpy for a while there. I'm sure things are gonna be all right but it just sort of took me by surprise. It got my blood pressure up and my spirits down. Even today I still feel a little down in the dumps. I'm not sure why but a favorite preacher of mine from years ago crossed my mind this morning and I looked him up on Google. The last time I heard from him he was in bad health so I wasn't too surprised to hear that he had gone to meet the Lord not long before Christmas last year.
His name was Dr. LaVerne Butler. (You can read the obit about his interesting life here) In the obit, one of Dr. Butler's sons says this about his Dad: "The theme for his life, and I think this captures him more than anything else, is out of Ephesians 4:15: Speaking the truth in love,"
I believe we may have first heard him preach down at Camp Zion in Myrtle, MS, in the 1980's. I was awed by his knowledge and the ability to present his message in such a way that you could not take your eyes from him. It was a joy to listen to him preach. And then soon after that, our pastor asked him to preach a "summer revival" at our little church. Back then when we had summer revival we had morning services in addition to the regular night services. I usually played the piano for the morning services because our regular piano player, Mrs. Lila Mae, worked at a factory and couldn't be there. Almost always the revival would fall during the time when our field corn was "coming in" and I would have to come home from revival and cut corn off the cob all afternoon to put into the freezer. It was a hot and tiring week but God always blessed.
The ladies at church took turns fixing a meal for the visiting preacher during revival and I always took my turn. I remember the day that Bro. Butler came to our house. You have to know that we lived about half an hour from the church to start with. Add that the last six miles were dusty dirt roads. Plus the heat of the summer at mid-day. I'm not even sure we had air conditioning at that time. Our pastor and his family and Bro. Butler were all to be our guests that day after morning services. We'd been having some kind of problems with our car quitting on us and it picked that day to do it's thing! Somehow Benny sent me, Mrs. Peggy (my pastor's wife), Bro. Butler, and the smallest of the kids on to the house in Peggy's car while they worked on ours in the heat. I remember at the time being embarrassed. Here was this great man of God ,who I was sure used to things being a lot more fancy than they were at my house ,riding over dusty bumpy roads to eat dinner in our tiny little house in the middle of the woods.
While I went into the kitchen to get the finishing touches on the big dinner I had prepared earlier that morning, I told Bro. Butler to make himself at home. I was totally prepared for him to give our home...which many would have called shabby...a disgusting once-over with his eyes. I was not prepared for what he actually did! He walked over to the bookshelf and picked out "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" by Phillip Keller, looked over at me and smiled, and said this is a really good book...then he sat down and began to look through it like he was happy as he could be.
The whole time he was in my home he never complained or looked down on us...he only complimented me and my family. I've said many times since then that he made me feel like a queen. Our family loved Bro. Butler as we have loved few other preachers. And he loved us back! What a jewel he was. I'm so glad we had the opportunity to not only hear him preach....because there's a lot of men who can preach...but that we also were able to visit with him on many different occasions through the years and see that he was the real deal ! I agree with his son. He did have a talent of "Speaking the Truth in Love"
Bro. LaVerne....we will never forget you!
(Picture) Copyright © 1999-2005, Southern Baptist Convention.