To be a man was to be responsible. It was as simple as that. To be a man was to build something, to try to make the world about him a bit easier to live in for himself and those who followed. You could sneer at that, you could scoff, you could refuse to acknowledge it, but when it came right down to it, it was the man who planted a tree, dug a well, or graded a road who mattered.”
–Louis L’Amour (Conagher)
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.”
–Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)
“Work implies effort and labor, the essential idea of fruit is that it is the silent natural produce of our inner life.”
As a kid and even later in my life, I would drive the old mining roads around where I grew up: Sunshine Canyon, Left-Hand Canyon, Boulder Canyon and the roads that linked the old mining towns together. There is a ghost town aboved Nederland that I would go see now and again–the town of Caribou. It lies just below timberline, a few miles from my hometown. Abandoned mines, remnants of houses are all that is left of the once prosperous silver town. Oh, there are a few hanger-ons, and some of the less savory characters have moved in, but for all practical purposes Caribou is a ghost town.
There is a story I recall about a preacher of old Caribou. To be sure these mining communities had their rough lot; there was plenty of wickedness, evil, danger, and crime, but on the other hand what group needs a preacher more than these? There were families there and they recognized the importance of school and church.
However, there came a time when the members of the church thought the pastor was not doing his job properly; his sermons did not do enought to get the devil out of Caribou. One way to get rid of the preacher was to not pay him; in other words–starve him out.
There was one miner who decided, either as a whim or joke to take up a collection for the pastor. He started with one saloon, and of course had a drink, and proceeded to make the rounds up and down the camps of saloons, dance halls, “soiled doves,” and back up through the saloons again. He kept his body “juiced up” as he went along the way and also gained quite a crowd. Upon making the rounds he found he had a donation of $500.
The miner, now quite under the spell of demon rum, started towards the church. The last hymn had just been sung when he walked in the doors of the meeting house and he walked, fairly steadily, straight up to the pulpit. He looked at the preacher with respect for he knew tht he had built this church with his own hands; the miner respected a man who worked hard whether it was using a hammer in a mine, building a church, or preaching a sermon.
He gave the preacher the money he had collected and said, “Mister Preacher, here’s money to pay you for your preaching. Since these people won’t support you in decent manner, we will. We want you to stay here and preach to us sinners.” Then with a few deletives he pretty much told the congregation they could go somewhere hot.
People want the presence of the church. Oh, they might not attend and might be foul heathens in their own right, but with a church in the community there is a sense of security. There is a fortress that stands against the forces of evil, and it is there is they ever need it. Yet today, we try to make the church look like just another office building; we want to sterilize it. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you never know how the Holy Spirit is working.
By the way, with that episode of the miner, the mines of Caribou began to take one dollar a month from each man’s pay for the support of the pastor. My, the Lord sure does work in mysterious ways!