Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 26, 2014


Showing people how to stop wandering in the wilderness


                I lost a good friend on Christmas day. Jay Andrews was only 54. His sudden and unexpected death was a jarring reminder to live each day to the full since we know not what a day will bring forth.

                I met Jay at an altar many years ago. We prayed together and became friends. Decades later I had the privilege of serving on staff with him at our church. He had a good mind and a big heart. No day with Jay was without laughter because he was forever bubbling over with joyous enthusiasm. He was a fun person to be around.

                Jay had a pastor’s heart. His great longing was to serve God as a pastor. A few years back he called to share the good news that he had been asked to become pastor of Snowdoun United Methodist Church south of Montgomery. Though the church was struggling Jay was convinced he could help the people revitalize the church – and he did.

                The reason for Jay’s success as a pastor is no secret. He loved the people and they loved him. He called his church family “friends beyond compare, rays of light in an often-dark world.” God has a way of using pastors who think like that.

                Jay wrote a good book three years ago. I have read it three or four times, twice since Jay’s death. The book ‘s title is Wanderings in the Wilderness, with the subtitle The Journey Back to Eden, published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson. It is available from most bookstores and from Amazon.

                Like most of us Jay knew about wandering in the wilderness. But he found his way out and he spent the best part of his life showing people how to stop such aimless wandering. Jay gave up rambling in the dark and began enjoying what he called “the glory of the journey to the Promised Land.”

                I want to give you a taste of Jay’s gifted writing. He uses his vivid imagination to describe the wandering experiences of several biblical characters. I love the way he pictures Paul and Silas in that hell-hole called a jail. Overwhelmed by the stench of death, Paul is angry and frustrated. So Jay writes:

                “Each time he moved, the burning of torn flesh reminded him of the angry faces of the men who beat them. Open wounds on the cold stone of a damp wall had killed many a prisoner as infection took its toll. A chill ran up his spine as he felt something crawl over his foot. Chains rattled and shackles tore deeper into his ankles as he kicked away the unwelcome intruder. His legs were stiff; he could not raise one arm; his head felt swollen; and he was dizzy. His belly burned with hunger as he heard the laughter of the guards above….

                “His heart felt defeat. He thought he had been called to Macedonia by a vision, but maybe not. This is not what he expected….Perhaps he had misinterpreted his calling….It was too much to bear. The Lord had finally asked too much of him. Quietly he wept. He could not go on any more.

                “’Brother Paul,’ a weak, raspy voice whispered.

                “He could not be sure, but, between the coughs, it sounded like Silas.

                “Are …you awake? Perhaps…maybe…we could…pray; perhaps the Lord would have pity on us.

                “As Paul began to pray, Silas began to sing softly and gently.

                “Paul’s voice grew in strength.

                “An eerie silence fell on the inner cell. The whimpering stopped.

                “The cries of agony grew silent.

                “The pain had ceased.

                “Silas sang louder and Paul joined his melody of praise. A few prisoners joined in; the others, too weak to sing, just listened and enjoyed the peace of the moment.

                “The distant rumble was felt before it was heard, and soon light flooded the once dark prison and the captive’s shackles fell to the floor….”

                I will stop there in the hope that Jay’s words have whetted your appetite for more. Believe me, this is a good book by a man who became a good guide for people who were weary of wandering in the wilderness. + + +