The Storyteller Tells a Story of Faith… God’s People at Work The Path Beneath My Feet – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalms 119:105 (NIV)
The series of stories under this heading will feature people of faith from both Barnitz and Mt. Zion churches who have not only built the foundation of our churches, but also the foundation of our faith. “The Path Beneath My Feet” is a periodic series of stories which will showcase these people. Jake Wilson (MZ) is the subject of this story.
When we are born into this world, none of us really knows what our future will be. We will make thousands, possibly millions, of decisions during our lifetime that could alter the path we take. However, the most important decision of all is the decision to follow Jesus. This story is about Jake Wilson (MZ) who decided at an early age to walk as a child of God, and throughout his life he’s never doubted that decision.
Revelation 3:20 ”Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door,
I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” NRSV
Jake grew up in Gardners, one of four children. He went to church (Uriah UMC) with his mother and siblings throughout his entire childhood. At the urging of his Sunday School teacher when he was about 11 or 12 years old, he accepted Jesus as his Savior during a revival service. Jake wasn’t exactly sure what being a ‘child of God’ meant, but he was certain he was on the right path. In 1964 Jake lost his 20- year-old brother to kidney disease. At the age of 15, this tragedy had a profound effect on him, but further cemented his need to have Christ in his life. 1968, Jake married and began attending Mt. Zion UMC. “When I was older,” says Jake, “in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, Mt. Zion held revival services and at one of those evening services, I felt the need to rededicate my life. At that time, Jake understood a little more what being a Christian really meant.
“O Lord, with Your eyes You have searched me, and while smiling have spoken my name,”
Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore, pp. 344-5*
The loss of his brother wouldn’t be the only valley Jake would experience, but through the death of his parents, his brother and sister and several bouts of cancer, he always relied on the strength of Jesus to pull him through. “During the down times…my faith, my walk is what helped me through and gave me the courage to keep going because I knew this was just a bump in the road that I was traveling, During the periods that were good, I hoped I thanked God enough (for all the blessings he gave me),” says Jake.
“Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever! He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him; He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.
Victory in Jesus, pp. 370-1*
Jake adds, “Many people have touched me by the way they lived their lives showing that you can be a Christian and lead a happy productive life regardless of your circumstances. Teachers, church leaders and pastors urged me to go farther and do what I didn’t think I could do. One such friend and mentor, Bill Sheaffer, said to me when the Pastor was on vacation and he was speaking that the next time was my turn to deliver the message. Never in my wildest thoughts did I think I would ever deliver a Sunday morning message!”
“I have no regrets except possibly not thanking God enough for all the blessings He has given to me over my life time. I expect (the rest of my life) to be filled with family and church. One grandson will graduate from high school next year and start a new path in his life. God willing, I intend to be a part of that path. The younger five grandsons are involved with sports, school and understanding the world around them, and I will continue to be a part of their journeys with God’s help. I plan to teach Sunday School as long as possible. I enjoy the conversation with the class as we seek the truth from the Scriptures. We are called to bear much fruit – to call on the Spirit for words, wisdom, courage and strength to be a disciple of our Christ,” adds Jake. He has been fortunate enough to have had opportunities to touch people in his life. When he retired, Jake’s co-workers called him ‘preacher’ because he was always happy and didn’t waiver from his faith. There is no greater compliment than to be known as a person of God. You can add that to the list of blessings God has provided.
*United Methodist Hymnal, United Methodist Publishing House, 1989