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The State of the Church: The Pool Table

Rev. Dr. Barry Johnson

As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, tributes and remembrances will flood those who

are blessed to have (or have had) a wonderful mother. The matriarch of our family was a single parent whose priorities were immersed in the raising and development of her children. One example of Momma’s many sacrifices was that one year, we wanted a pool table for Christmas. My brother and I were in junior high and middle school; and we had no idea at the time that Momma had purchased one, until several men showed up to install it in our basement. The pool table was used but in perfect shape. Years later, I learned its history, in that it had been an expensive unit when originally purchased; but the family put it up for sale because the father had accepted a job in another city, and they had to relocate. It was much easier to sell the heavy pool table than to try to move it with the rest of their belongings.

Momma could not afford to buy us a new pool table, especially one that was custom-made with all the amenities, such as the extra cues (sticks) and covers; but she miraculously found this used one and made the sacrifices needed to buy it for her children. Momma was like that. She was always looking for “a way” to be made. She did her research and surprised us with exactly what we wanted!

But here is the real blessing. The son of the family who had originally owned the pool table did not want to lose it; but his father explained that he could get a better one when they relocated. Then, when the father found out that my mother was a single parent with four children, his heart was touched; and he sold it to Momma for less than half of his initial asking price! Momma knew nothing about pool tables when she agreed to buy it; so, she had to figure out how she was going to get it home. That’s when this father enlisted some men from his church to deliver and install it for us. The blessings just kept coming! The men completed the delivery and installation, and when Momma paid the money she owed, all of it was returned to her!

These “delivery” men then revealed that in their weekly Bible study, they had been inspired to bless someone that Christmas; and when they had the opportunity to make it happen, they did just that! They had not planned it, but the Lord answered prayers on both ends of the spectrum; he blessed my mother and family, while simultaneously blessing these men. Also, the son who was losing the pool table was overjoyed that it was going to a family that would take care of it (and that he would soon get a new one of his own choosing).

That pool table became an instant hit, especially on Sunday afternoons, as friends from the neighborhood came over after church to participate in what we believed were the world's greatest pool tournaments! Our pool table became so popular that some of the older guys and adults started coming over; but Momma had to stop this intrusion because the fun was meant only for the kids. This after-church gathering went on for years, and my mother beamed with pride at the extent of the blessings. She firmly believed in the idea of our bringing our friends into our home (rather than her children hanging out in the streets). The sad part is that several of the young men who gathered in our basement on Sundays (and an occasional after-school evening) got into trouble when they reached adulthood. Momma often lamented that, had we not grown up and stopped the pool tournaments, these few young men (who had “outgrown” Sunday School and church) may not have lost their innocence.

This pool table account is not about being blessed with the table, per se; it is a story of how God grants the desires of the hearts of His children, in this case, for all parties involved. The Lord saw the need for the family to sell their pool table (and our family’s desire to purchase one) but more so, that my mother would allow the neighborhood youths into our home for these gatherings, which lasted until we graduated from high school.

In all situations, our Heavenly Father watches over us in ways that we cannot see. Momma has been with the Lord since 2007, and I have numerous other stories of how blessed we were to have her as our mother. Her funeral was “packed” with those who had been touched by this lady (all of her “children,” as she would call them), who came to say goodbye. As we celebrate Mother's Day, may we remember that Christian mothers connect us to Jesus and give special meaning to the song lyrics, "The Lord is blessing me, right now!"

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