By Lynn Jones
Last week I did the eulogy at the funeral of James Chase in Booneville, MS. James was a friend who served as Sunday School Director the entire 17 years that I served as pastor at First Baptist Church in Booneville. When James’ wife, Virginia, invited me to do the eulogy, she said, “We will be sad that day, but you can make us smile.” I tried to make them smile and pay tribute to James at the same time. This is part of what I said.
While I was pastor of First Baptist Church, we installed an elevator in the church to help people who found it difficult to climb the stairs. Shortly after our elevator was installed, I was sitting in my office one Sunday morning studying my sermon during Sunday School. Deeply immersed in my message, I was jarred back to reality by the ringing of the telephone. I grabbed the receiver and responded, “First Baptist Church, this is Lynn Jones, may I help you?” The voice on the other end of the line said, “This is the 911 office. Do you have an elevator in your church?” I told the emergency officer that we did. He responded, “Well, we just got a call from your elevator.”
My first thought was, “Oh, no. We never should have hooked that phone up to the emergency office because the kids will be playing with it all the time and causing false alarms.” Trying to cover my embarrassment, I said, “I am so sorry about this. Some of our kids have been riding that elevator, and I am sure that one of them made the call. Please excuse us.”
The man on the other end of the line said, “Well, the person who called said that his name is James Chase.” “James Chase,” I said. “Well, that’s different. He’s our Sunday School Director. I’ll check on it, and if we need your help we’ll call back.” I went running over to the elevator, and James had already been rescued. He had not only used the phone in the elevator; he had also been ringing the emergency bell. A couple of people had heard the bell and had used the elevator key to rescue him. I apologized to James for trying to brush off the emergency operator. He said that was okay. He added, “You should have heard me trying to convince the 911 operator that First Baptist Church actually had an elevator.”
I am grateful that James was not ashamed to call for some help when he needed it. The strongest people are those who ask for help. You may need some help today. If so, you can call on a friend, and you can call on God. I am grateful that He hears our calls and that He will give us the help that we need.
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.