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A Man of Few Words
But when he spoke...
Elton had been going to First Baptist since he helped lay the foundation for the church more than 70 years ago. No one really knew how old Elton was but he was at least in his 80s and pushing 90.
The kids all called him Mr. Elton, but the parents called him either Deacon Elton or Brother Elton. He did have a last name, but not many knew it.
Mr. Elton would do fine.
Though he didn’t say much, Elton enjoyed being around the kids and playing with them. He always had a joke or riddle, or a rope or card trick handy. They brought joy and peace in his life.
For 58 days straight, the thermometer had reached 100 degrees, the highest being 107.
Local farmers were sweating and it had nothing to do with the weather. They looked helplessly out onto their fields and the brownness was evident. If they didn’t get rain – and soon – the harvest would be bleak.
At the monthly potluck, the lack of rain was the main topic of discussion among the parishioners. There was still plenty of food to feed everybody, but no one really knew how long that would last.
“Brother Elton,” Pastor Edmunds said. “Would you like to ask God’s blessings on this gathering?”
Elton nodded and took off his hat.
“Let’s pray, shall we?”
Brother Elton bowed his head and remained silent for what seemed like a half hour. Others had taken a peek from their bowed position to see if maybe he had prayed quietly and said, “Amen” already.
Elton merely rocked to and fro on his feet and slowly nodded his bowed head.
“Lord,” Elton said, “We thank you for this spread of food before us. We thank you for being able to gather in freedom and without fear of persecution. Bless our time together.”
Then he paused, not unlike his pause before he started praying.
With his chin still on his chest and his eyes closed, he ended his prayer with five simple words before the final Amen, “And Lord, sure is hot.”
The amens were plentiful as the parishioners looked up with smiles on their faces, unsure of what to make or think of his short but candid prayer.
As the last of the potluck goers dipped her spoon into the last of the potato salad, the lights flickered off and on twice, and thunder rumbled for ten seconds overhead. Multiple bolts of lightning lit the sky for three seconds as the rain began drenching the ground outside. Seventy-eight parishioners from First Baptist went to the windows to witness the downpour.
Rain had not been in the forecast for at least the next 10 days, and now this.
Elton stood in the center of the fellowship hall, looked up to the ceiling, and whispered, “Thank you, Lord.”