The Roman Road
The Roman Road|
“Belle, get down. I want my chair.”
Belle looked up as if to say, You want me to get down in the dirt?
“You’re a dog,” I reminded her as I shooed her out of my chair. I relaxed down into the chair to gaze at shimmering Lake Sardis. I had spent the night in John W. Kyle State Park in Mississippi. I took a deep breath, enjoying the beauty, as I also shooed the flies away. God, why did you make flies? He didn’t answer but I think He laughed.
I watched the couple next door moving their giant rig, boat, and various equipment to yet another campsite. Was it something I did or said? I wondered. I’d already watched them move the night before, to the site next door to me. Now they were moving to the site across from me. Three sites in less than 24 hours. Some people can’t make up their minds. As I watched them set up all of their fancy equipment for the third time, I was reminded of what an amateur camper I am. They made it look easy.
I had my tea, my devotional books, and my Bible and I was ready for a long conversation with God. I stopped watching the campers and closed my eyes. God, I enjoyed the weekend in Jackson visiting with my friends. Thank you for them. I’m lonely this morning. Please send me lots of people to talk to today.
I heard the words, “Is she a digger?”
Is God talking aloud to me now? I wondered. I opened my eyes to see my sweaty neighbor, wearing dirty white shorts, an undershirt like my daddy wears, and tennis shoes.
“Is she a digger?” he repeated.
Guessing he was talking about Belle, I answered, “No, but I’ve never left her outside so I don’t really know.”
“I kept one of them there Lassie dogs for my neighbor and she dug up my entire yard. Must have been nervous.”
“Sheltie’s don’t like change. I boarded Belle this weekend and it was a rough experience for her. She still hasn’t recovered. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again.”
“Where are you from?” he asked. I gave him the lowdown on my mission and journey.
“So you’re a Christian writer,” he confirmed. “Maybe we have some of your books.”
I laughed. “I can only wish. My book just came out. I’m Cheryle by the way.”
“Hi, I’m Kimble.”
“I mostly think of myself as a missionary,” I told him. “I talk to people about God. If you read Christian books, you must be a Christian.”
“Yes ma’am,” he said proudly. “I was “Born Again” in 1968 and been saved ever since.”
“I’ll bet you’re Baptist,” I said.
“How’d you guess?’
“I’m getting pretty good at telling what religion people are by how they describe their Christianity. I’ve talked to people all over the country. I’m Baptist too, by the way. So what led you to Christ?”
“My wife went to a church that put on a city wide revival. She kept trying to get me to go so I finally gave in. It got me to thinking but I brushed it off. One night my daughter asked, ‘Daddy, why can’t you get saved like other daddies.’ I got so mad that I put my fist through the wall. Back then, I had a problem with anger.”
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
“I guess I was running from God and mad because I couldn’t get away. You see, I was a railroad man. I didn’t think that God stuff was manly. Now I know you’re not a real man until you are a man of God.”
“My daddy was railroad man,” I said proudly. “I grew up occasionally riding the rails with him. I love the railroad. He was conductor.”
“I was conductor too. If your daddy was a railroad man, you know what I mean about the culture. Anyway, my wife had a Bible that had the Roman Road marked in it. I didn’t want her to know I was reading it so I snuck it off her dresser. I read that salvation was a free gift and that I was on the road to hell.”
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Kimble’s manly eyes misted as he continued. “When I was finished reading, I carefully put the Bible back so she wouldn’t know I’d touched it. I couldn’t get it out of my mind that Jesus died for me.”
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
"Finally, I’d had enough. I gave up and asked Jesus to be a part of my life. I went to church with my wife and got baptized."
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
“I’ve been in church ever since. I’ve even gone to preacher school so I could learn how to tell others about Jesus. The Bible and Jesus are a part of everything we do. We even named our dog Moses.”
Kimble said goodbye, hooked up his boat, and moved it to his new campsite. Wow, God. I asked you to send me people to talk to. That sure was fast. No longer lonely, I continued my prayer, meditation, and Bible Study.
When I finished my time with God, I dressed, and cleaned up the campsite. I’d forgotten to give Kimble a Pocket Full of Quarter’s card so I walked one over to his new campsite. He wasn’t around so I left it on his picnic table. As I was walking away, a woman with beautiful silver hair and pink pajamas opened the camper door. Moses lumbered out and she stepped outside to grab him.
“I didn’t mean to bother you,” I said as I let Moses lick me. “I talked to your husband this morning and wanted to leave him the card to my website.” Great, I thought. There’s no telling what kind of website she thinks this is. Babbling, I explained about the website. I’ve really got to work on this babbling.
She smiled and put the clumsey, brown haired, floppy eared Moses on his chain. “He told me about you. I understand you write Christian books.”
“Well, I’ve written one and have a second one coming out in September.” Barbara and I introduced ourselves as Moses jumped on me with his giant paws. I scratched his ears. “I heard your husband’s salvation story. He said you went to church first but he didn’t tell me anything about your story. How old were you when you became a Christian.”
“I didn’t become a Christian until two years after him. I grew up in church but didn’t understand it. I even walked the aisle and was baptized when I was twelve but I had no clue what grace was about. I never felt good enough for God so I just worked harder. My faith was all about working hard so I could earn God’s love. I was active in church and working hard. One night, at a church visitation my friend said, ‘What would you say if I told you I just became a Christian 2 week ago?’ I was stunned. She and I had been church friends for a long time. She went on to tell me what she had discovered about grace.”
Barbara continued. “I couldn’t sleep that night. I realized that while I was active in church, I was lost. The next morning, I got down on my knees, confessed my sins, and asked Jesus into my life. Instantly, all guilt was gone. I walked the aisle the next Sunday and was baptized for a second time. I’ve never experienced guilt again. I’m at peace with Jesus. I still sin, but I’m forgiven for my past and future sins. I’m already righteous and God is making me Holy. He won’t be finished with me until I’m home with Him but He’s working on me every day.”
“I know what you mean about still sinning,” I confessed. “I was having a hard time putting oil in the generator last night. I dropped the tiny oil cap inside the generator compartment and couldn’t fit my hand in to get it out.
“My husband was on the phone walking me through the process. Knowing I couldn’t run the generator without that oil cap, he had an anxiety attack. His anxiety added to my frustration and I’m afraid I took that frustration out on him. Thankfully, I got off the phone before I did too much damage. I reached my hand in a dark sticky place and finally found the cap. I put the cap back on and went in the camper to clean up. I washed and washed but the oil wouldn’t come off. I called Bob to ask how to get oil off.”
'Cheryle’, he said. ‘I packed some Gojo for you. It’s under the sink on the bottom shelf.’
“God convicted me at that moment as I realized Bob had even prepared me for washing oil off my hands. ‘I’m sorry I snapped at you,’ I told him. He was gracious and just relieved I found the cap.”
Smiling, Barbara said, “I know just what you mean. That’s the kind of stuff that gets to me too. If you weren’t a Christian, that wouldn’t have bothered you. Before we accept Christ, we sin all we want to. After we accept Christ, we sin more than we want to.”
I stood in awe of the Holy Spirit, knowing I’d just heard something profound. Barbara continued her story. After she became a Christian, she began leading other women to Christ. She teaches a woman’s Sunday School class.
“We have an interesting mixture of races, classes, and backgrounds,” she told me. “One woman is recovering from alcoholism and another has a husband who is a serious alcoholic. These women desperately need Jesus. I include the Roman Road in every lesson.”
The ancient Romans used to say that all roads lead to Rome. The Roman Road is the nickname given to the above collection of scriptures in the Book of Romans. These scriptures explain the only road to God.
To see pictures of Lake Sardis, Moses, and Barbara’s feet and pink pajamas, go to the photo gallery and look in Mississippi - John W. Kyle State Park and Mississippi – Sardis Dam. Barbara didn’t want her face in the picture. “My sister cut my hair too short and I don’t like it,” she explained.
P.S. Kimble and Barbara moved campsites the first time because the afternoon sun was too hot. They moved the second time because they couldn't get cable. They were happy with their third site.