On The Journey, Judy Bowman
“The grace in a good book”
I love to read. I guess that’s not much of a surprise since I also love to write. I can’t remember NOT knowing how to read. Some of my earliest memories are sitting on my daddy’s lap when he’d come in at the end of his workday. We’d read the newspaper together. When I started school, I remember my first-grade teacher announcing that we were going to learn to read. I walked to her desk, convinced there’d been some kind of grave mistake and I asked if I could go on home, since I already knew how to read. That didn’t quite work out as I’d hoped. Thankfully the world of books has never let me down. And the more I read, the more I know what I like.
Two of my favorite authors reward me with characters and stories that engage me on many levels, challenge what I think and believe and make me take a new look at myself. Dean Koontz is known as a writer of suspense thrillers. I love his stories because he’s so adept at describing our suffering in this broken world and the grace that we’re offered to get us through and transcend it. His characters are sometimes weird and strange but then, so am I. There’s always hope and redemption in a Koontz book. Plus, he creates great dog characters which is always the mark of a good writer, in my opinion. I mean if you can understand dogs, you must have a great world-view.
My other favorite writer is Flannery O’Connor. As far as I’m concerned, she’s in a class of her own. So much has been written already about the characters and themes in her stories. I relate to her on a very personal level. She’s a fellow Georgian, a fellow Catholic (as is Dean Koontz) and a fellow odd-duck. Or maybe I should say “peacock” since she raised those birds on her family farm in Milledgeville. She suffered from lupus for many years before eventually dying from it. I watched my own mother battle the same disease for the last decade of her life. So Flannery and I share some things in common.
Every time I read her stories or letters she surprises me. She never fails to make me laugh, too. I love her understanding of human nature and how even in our most sinful moments, the possibility of supernatural grace never leaves us. The presence of Christ permeates us and the world and nothing can separate us from that. And there’s the real rub, isn’t it? If Christ really is the Son of God and He really did die on the Cross and rise from the dead to save us, then EVERYTHING is changed by Him. O’Connor seizes on that “supposition” and shocks us with her crazy Southern (is that redundant?) characters. No sinner is beyond God’s redemptive love, not even the most lost of us. And if Christ isn’t God and He didn’t suffer and die to save us from getting what we all deserve—-then nothing matters. Go and do what you want and live as hard and as fast as you can because your only goal is pleasure before it’s lights out.
Koontz and O’Connor are just two examples of Catholic writers who reveal God to me. Through using their gifts and talents, I can see the actions of grace in unexpected people and situations. Both writers use the grotesque and bizarre, the misbegotten and the twisted to shock us out of our everydayness. They don’t tap dance around sin or redemption: they shout it out loud and point with grand gestures just to make sure we don’t miss it. They highlight the worst in us so that the Light of Christ shines all the brighter. And that’s what we’re all called to do in our lives. We can’t all be gifted writers like these two, but we can use our own talents and vocations to let Christ shine through us.
“If He did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw everything away and follow Him.” — from “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
“Evil is no faceless stranger, living in a distant neighborhood. Evil has a wholesome, hometown face with merry eyes and an open smile. Evil walks among us, wearing a mask which looks like all our faces.” — from “The Mask” by Dean Koontz
Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
Next Sunday, Pleasant Valley Baptist will be recognizing Pack A Pew with Love Day on Sunday the 16th starting at 11AM. Make plans now to join with us. Everyone is invited to come help us pack out the church as well as a pew. All visitors will receive an appreciation gift as well as the person who brings the most visitors. Whether you are invited specifically by someone or you just come on your own, you will be our special guest and we look forward to having you in our service on this special day.! The worship hour will be followed with a fellowship meal and all are invited to enjoy food and fellowship.
We have many interesting studies going on at PVBC. In Sunday School, a study is beginning on why we believe what we believe as Baptist. It will be a comparative study looking at other Baptist teachings of the day. This study will better enable us to be confident in what we believe and how to defend those beliefs. On Wednesday, we are studying the book of Daniel. This past Sunday night, a study on Ezekiel was completed. Come learn the Bible with us and see your faith grow!
Pray with us for those with physical needs, Warren McAllister, Betty Pitts, Dianne Hullender (surgery), Jewel Mitchell, Carolyn Denton, Lula Petty, Denise Pitts, Claudette Armstrong, and many others of whom the Lord knows their name and their need. Many extended family members are in need of prayer and ask for them to be remembered in your prayers knowing God knows. Pray for Pastor Flood and his family, for the church and ministries including missionaries, Sunday school, youth, nursing homes and homeless, orphans. Pray for Israel/America. Pray for our U.S. Congress and the members who represent you and I. May they each humble themselves before God, call upon Him, realizing they are accountable to Him for their conduct and choices. Pray for our President and all elected officials, national, state, and local. Pray for the Heart Beat legislation (anti-abortion) being resisted in Georgia and being considered in Tennessee. Pray concerning the impeachment trials vote to acquit, for God’s will be done. Pray about coronavirus (11 cases in US) facing the world (pestilence). Pray for PVBC to be faithful to preaching God’s Word, grow, and spread the gospel in this community. Pray for souls to be saved and that God will send revival. Our churches and our country needs God sent Revival.
Services are live-streamed on Facebook. Service times are Devotion & Prayer 9:45AM, Sunday School 10AM, Worship 11AM, Evening 6PM with prayer at 5:45PM. Wednesday Bible Study and Youth Kid’s Zone meet at 7PM. Call for transportation 706 537-3633.
Come visit us at Pleasant Valley Baptist. If you have a desire to better know and understand the Bible, PVBC is a great church to learn, grow and serve the Lord!