15 Miles Past “Resume Speed”

Luke 14:23

I often remember a song that was popular in the days of the Jesus Movement. I remember when we played our guitars and sang with fervor:

Little country church on the edge of town, Doot’n-doot’n, do-do-do-do.

People coming everyday from miles around, Doot’n-doot’n, do-do-do-do.

And it’s very plain to see, it’s not the way it used to be, No-no-no

People aren’t stuffy like they were before, They just want to praise the Lord.

People aren’t talkin’ bout religion no more, They just want to praise the Lord.

My dad and uncle pastored those little country churches in west Texas towns, where the names of the towns were also descriptors. Brownfield, Littlefield, Plainview, Levelland, Sundown, and Needmore conjure up images that are exactly what they sound like.  Of course, there are some other towns that were named in irony, like Big Lake; it’s not big and there isn’t a lake. When my dad met someone who was unfamiliar with the area, they would ask, “Where is that?” His response was usually, “That’s 15 miles past ‘Resume Speed’ referring to the road sign as one leaves the previous town.


My dad felt called to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in.” He loved the country churches in small west Texas towns, and he loved the down-and-out who sought refuge in the wilderness. My mother told me this weekend the first thing my father would do when moving to a new church was look for the derelicts and rejects of the town, the alcoholics and addicts. Cities have no monopoly on that.

When I pastored in Miami (Texas), I felt like we had moved to the city.  Previously, I pastored in Channing, a town of 250 people and half a million head of cattle. We drove 35 miles for groceries, but around 100 folks met weekly in the red-brick church to worship.  In Miami, however, there was one of everything: one gas station, one grocery store, one bank, one café, and one traffic light. There was one Baptist church, one Methodist, one Church of Christ, and one Christian church (Disciples of Christ). Our motto for the church was “streams in the desert,” denoting how God was working in our remote little town of less than a thousand people.

This past Easter, I went with my wife and mother to visit my sister and her family. I remember Pennye vowing she would never marry a preacher, much less one who served a country church.  I snickered when she said it because I know what happens when you say “never” to God.  Shortly after she married her school teacher husband, he felt called to ministry and enrolled in seminary.  On this Good Friday we packed the car and headed for Seagraves, Texas, where my brother-in-law pastors a healthy church in a dying west Texas town. He too serves God in the highways and hedges.

I still have a stirring every time I am on the road and pass little chapel in the middle of nowhere. Even in the middle of no-where, God is now-here.

P.S. If you’re ever in west Texas, be sure to visit Big Spring, Loop, Circleback, Paint Rock, Muleshoe, Farwell, and Earth.

Published in: on March 30, 2016 at 9:18 am  Leave a Comment  

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