"In as much as we are led by the Spirit let us keep in Step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:25
For years, the television program “Star Trek” began each episode with their mission statement… Space the final frontier… These are the voyages of the Star Ship Enterprise... It’s continuing mission is to seek out and explore strange new worlds to boldly go where no one has gone before.” It was an exciting show and I must admit, I am a Star Trek fan. However, the ultimate journey is not in outer space. In Genesis, Noah is described as “walking with God.” He conducted himself as if God himself was his constant traveling companion. Noah was always aware of the presence of God. Living in the presence of God is a virtual doorway to Divine encounter. My journey began with my mother. She is the map I follow. Her steps charted my path and fashioned my life. Because of the contagious faith, my greatest desire as a small child was to read the Bible for myself. I slept soundly as screams pierced the night. Bruce, my two-year-old brother’s right knee was swollen, and Mother was placing cold compresses on it. Dad’s voice filtered in from the next room, “Is he all right, honey?” She prayed and slowly, painfully learned to “cast her cares on Him.” Mother clung to the Bible promises that we memorized. I was so endeared to those promises that I learned fifty of them before I knew how to read!
Bruce was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. His face became a familiar face at the Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Dallas, Texas. The ‘Scotty’ allotted only two hours for visitation each week, so every weekend Mother and Dad made the trip from our home in Amarillo to Dallas.
One autumn day, shortly after I began second grade, Mother took me to Uncle Jack’s farm. I had to stay there while they went to see Bruce. I was in Uncle Jack’s yard on the Texas Panhandle gazing out onto what to many would look like a barren landscape. Surrounded by a spacious Texas sky at sunset, my imagination soared. In the browns and yellows of the Texas grass, I saw fields of golden grain. In the distant rolling hills, I saw majestic purple mountains. Standing by a barbed wire fence, I was caught up in the majesty of creation. I began singing God Bless America to my doll, ‘Kay’. God’s gracious Spirit opened my understanding in those moments, and I sensed the earth was ablaze with the presence of God and I was encompassed with his Spirit. God’s glory enveloped me. From that moment, I knew I could trust God and that He would always be near me. Elizabeth Barrett Browning put it this way…
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he, who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.”
Growing up, the reality of the spiritual world seemed ever near. Bruce’s needs caused our family to depend on God for strength to meet daily challenges. I learned early to lean on God and to trust the power of prayer. Watching mother live her faith influenced my life more than thousands of sermons or books ever could. Powerful lessons were deeply imprinted on my heart and soul by imperfect people who trusted God despite their shortcomings and failures. Ordinary people who struggled to make the right choices. It has been a remarkable journey of joy in the face of tragedy and pain. Divine encounters were experienced almost daily and most often during the ordinary stuff of life.
I was nine when my mother bought a box of discarded library books. When she picked me up from school that afternoon she handed me a stack of books. I climbed into the back seat of our old sedan and began to sort them. I was attracted to the colorful pictures in a book titled, The Life of Martin Luther, and I began reading the story. When we got home, everyone bounded out of the car and headed inside. I stayed behind held captive by the book in my hand. The car was transformed into a chapel. My heart burned with a new strange urgency, and my eyes filled with tears. God called me to His service that very afternoon and birthed a fresh, new passion for his Word within me. The desire was, and remains to this day – fiery zeal.
I could not wait to follow the call God placed on my life, so I took on every task I was able. I would not be still or silent. Despite my youth and inexperience, I offered my services to Him in whatever ways I could. One of the places I was able to do that was at Camp Taconic in New York State. To this day, its big yellow tent remains a sacred place in my memories of all the years I attended summer camps. That tent represents memories of countless blessings. It was there that my brother Bruce experienced God’s healing touch, and it was there that, as a girl of seventeen, I knelt and asked God’s Holy Spirit to help me keep forever in step with His movement (Gal 5:25) and His sanctifying power.
I met my Husband Ray while I was at Eastern Nazarene College. Ray’s love for me and his support of my call to ministry continues to fuel and inspire me. For almost forty years, Ray and I have stood on mountaintops and traversed valleys together on our knees. With generous portions of love and laughter, we have traveled many roads serving the Lord with gladness in children’s ministry, the pastorate, and as an evangelists. Life in the Greene household is never dull. God has truly “increased our borders.” He has blessed us with a large family of ten children (not to mention those who simply, "wannabe Greene”).
The dining room table, that had so many extensions it wobbled from lack of support, has now returned to a normal size. Most of our children have grown and left the nest, and now Ray and I are adjusting to life with a smaller family. Although there are only two children at home, God has assured us there is still much to discover and to accomplish one-step at a time.
The world is too full of Divine possibilities and marvelous opportunities to just sit around “picking blackberries.”