A common sight on a Sunday morning at First Baptist Church Carbon Hill was to see a little boy decked out in a white cowboy hat, dark boots, and a big belt buckle taking up the offering right beside his dad.
A common sight on a Sunday morning at First Baptist Church Carbon Hill was to see a little boy decked out in a white cowboy hat, dark boots, and a big belt buckle taking up the offering right beside his dad. That little boy, Cooper, loved being with his father and especially loved to be an usher beside of him on Sunday mornings. Everyone would smile and wink at little Cooper as he walked beside his daddy, Micky, collecting the tithes and gifts.
Cooper is a miracle child, to be sure. A few years back, Cooper was almost killed inside the family vehicle in a one-in-a-million type accident. Micky and his wife Amy prayed desperately for their lifeless little boy to live and God graciously answered their prayer. Truly miraculous, Cooper was wrestling with his older brother Conner and other kids less than 24 hours later like nothing had ever happened. Cooper’s recovery was such an amazing event that Micky and Amy rediscovered their faith and began to genuinely walk after the Lord. I so enjoyed seeing them grow as believers.
So, every Sunday that Micky took up the offering, there was Cooper right beside him, decked out, as usual, in his cowboy hat, boots, and buckle. But then Micky was gone. In December of last year, Micky was tragically killed in a mining accident. He just left home one morning to go to work and never came back. No answered prayers this time. Instead, tragedy actually struck and it struck hard. I walked with this family through their horrific loss and watched Micky’s wife and two boys, and the rest of the family, wrestle with what had happened. The pain and loss and heartbreak were unimaginable. Even though everyone took comfort that Micky was in heaven, the separation took its toll for sure.
And on Sunday mornings, we could all see the loss. No Micky and no Cooper taking up the offering. The sadness permeated all of our hearts - a deep sadness that human words can’t adequately describe.
But then, one Sunday in the morning service, there was Cooper again, standing with the ushers in front of the sanctuary while a deacon read some verses from the Bible. What an inspirational and moving moment it was. Wearing his trademark outfit, Cooper wanted to honor his dad by taking up the offering again, just like he did with Micky. He was made an honorary usher and I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the sanctuary watching that little boy honor his father in such a meaningful way. Cooper still takes up the offering to this day. You will often see a boy with a white cowboy hat, boots, and a big belt buckle up front in the worship service standing with the other ushers as they prepare to receive tithes and offerings for the Lord.
This last week was Vacation Bible School with First Baptist Church Carbon Hill. God moved mightily in the hearts of many children, but on Tuesday night we talked deeply about following Jesus and what that meant for all of our lives. We don’t have a formal invitation with children in that setting. Instead, we ask children who are convicted in their little hearts about following Jesus to speak to one of the adults. With his cowboy hat firmly settled on his head, there was Cooper, standing right next to me, looking up at me with those big blue eyes.
Our VBS Director, Ms. Terrie, and I took Cooper aside and began to talk with him about being a Christian. We talked about the fact that God loves us all very much even though we have rebelled against God and are not right with Him. We talked about Jesus being perfect in all He did, never rebelling against God and that Jesus died on the cross for our disobedience – that is, our sinful nature and our sins. Then we discussed Jesus rising from the dead and securing our victory which is the greatest news in all of history. Cooper made it very clear he was ready – READY – to follow Jesus with all of his heart and life. And let me tell you, there has never been a more precious prayer prayed to receive the Lord than in that moment. Little Cooper, seven years old, told the Lord he was a sinner with tears streaming down his face. Terrie and I both had tears in our eyes as well. Cooper declared his love for Jesus and gave Him all of his heart and life, as much as a child could express it. I truly witnessed a heavenly moment.
Of course, we brought in his mother Amy who sat with Cooper and walked with him through what had happened. And then she said a sentence I will never forget: “Cooper, I know your Daddy is real proud of you.” Oh yes he is, Cooper. Yes he is.
I don’t know why some prayers get answered and some do not. I do not have the mind of God nor will I ever understand all of His ways. Why did God spare Cooper only to take Micky later? I do not know. No one does. But I know this: God has brought the amazing out of the ashes of the awful. Just like the shoot of a new plant sprouting up in a burnt forest, we have seen God show forth his fruit even through great tragedy. I don’t understand the ways of God but I do trust the Word of God which in John 16:33 reveals clearly the words of Jesus: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
So when you see a little boy with a white cowboy hat, dark boots, and a big belt buckle come down the aisle Sunday morning to make a profession of faith in Jesus, hopefully you will see as I do that Jesus has overcome the world and has done great good even among great sadness.
As much as we want heaven to be here on this earth, it is not. This world has been infected by sin from the very beginning and is absolutely corrupted until Jesus returns. But there is a heaven. And it is wonderful! Imagine with me this scene: one day Cooper, hopefully an old man, enters into heaven following his last breath.
As Cooper closes his eyes in this world he opens them up in another and sees his Lord Jesus in all his indescribable splendor. Cooper is taken aback with the majesty and beauty of his King. And then Cooper looks over and there is Micky, arms outstretched and smile gleaming as a father and son are reunited again. What an amazing sight that will be. Triumph out of tragedy. To God be the glory.
Scott McCullar is pastor at First Baptist Church Carbon Hill. He can be reached by calling (205) 924-4145 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The church’s website is http://www.fbccarbonhill.com.