Dateline: 4 September 2016
It was five years ago this month that we buried my mother and stepfather in Holland, Massachusetts. I wrote about it HERE (and my tribute to my stepfather is HERE).
Pastor Bruce Plumley of the Holland Church performed the graveside service. I had never met Pastor Plumley prior to that day, and have not seen him since. At most, we were in each other's presence maybe an hour. But we did have some e-mail exchanges around that event, and I sent him a copy of my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian at that time.
Bearing that in mind, you can imagine my surprise when, a couple weeks ago, out of the blue, I received the following e-mail from Pastor Plumley (reprinted here with his permission)...
Good morning Herrick,
I know it has been many years and you may not remember me as vividly as I remember you. I am the pastor at Holland Church in Holland Ma that conducted a graveside service for your family. That day that we met, God blessed me with a treasure in you and your family that you will not realize this side of heaven. This morning I had to let you know that your ministry has encouraged a weary pastor this day, and has caused me to fall on my knees and give our mighty God all glory and honor for His hand upon His people.
I have a copy of your book Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. I had this little book made into a hard copy so that it will last longer and it is beautifully well preserved. I did this because of the blessing and value to me and I pray to many others as the years go by. I do share this book and others have been likewise blessed.
Yesterday I was so overwhelmed with the battle against the enemy as I ministered to God's people, that I pulled out your book and began to read yet again of "The Good Life". Now do not get me wrong this does not take the place of God's Word, but this little book is solace to me and reminds me that life is good and can be better.
Thank you for sowing into my life with your wisdom and passions as God has gifted you. I am a blessed man.
May God bless you abundantly in return,
Pastor Bruce Plumley
My humble "claim to fame" in this life is that I wrote a book about how to build a Whizbang chicken plucker. I wrote that book to make money, and the idea paid off. It paid off well enough that I could afford to then self-publish a book that was not written with profit in mind.
Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian is a book that I felt compelled to write. You might say I felt a calling to write it. And, since publishing it ten years ago, I've received a few letters similar to the above one from Pastor Plumley.
Such feedback is a great blessing to me. A hundred positive comments from readers of my chicken plucker plan book don't come close to equalling the feeling of satisfaction and thanksgiving that comes from one letter like Pastor Plumley's.
It is interesting to see how this book (and its deeper message) has resonated with some people, while not making much of an impression with others. I suppose that is the case with any book, but I'm more aware of it with this one. Here's an example of what I mean...
A few weeks ago an older couple visited our church one Sunday morning. I introduced myself to them and the first thing the woman said to me was, "I read your book."
I knew she was talking about Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian and I was a little surprised. "How did you happen to read my book," I asked.
"I got it at the thrift store."
Well, come to find out, this woman works at the local thrift store, which is operated by the local Methodist Church. Someone local (who I had most likely given a copy of my book to) had given it to the thrift shop. The book didn't mean much to the person I gave it to. But, amazingly, it was picked up and read by someone who did find it worthwhile.
There is an old William Cowper quote that goes like this:
"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform."
I see that again and again in my life. The little stories that surround this book are just one example.
A Final Thought
There are so many carnal christians in the pews, there is so much pride, so much worldliness, such a lack of love, so much biblical ignorance, so much personal irresponsibility, and so many people who give no serious thought to the pursuit of holiness in their own lives, that being a pastor must be incredibly discouraging.
I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who answer the call to pastor a church.