Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

November 5, 2017


Moments that take your breath away


        I love the idea that life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away. I find it a good exercise for my brain to stop now and then and reflect on those precious moments, golden moments, that took my breath away.

        Recently I had such a moment in church when Anthony and Katelyn brought their infant son Samuel David Albritton to the altar for holy baptism. Baptizing Sam, my 16th great grandchild, took my breath away! Like all my great grandchildren, Sam is a brilliant and beautiful child!

        Long ago, when I was 10, I had a breath-taking moment on Christmas morning. Under the tree was a BB Gun, the best gift Santa had ever given me. Growing up on a farm, I had seen the men go forth to hunt game with shotguns. That day, with my own BB Gun, I felt like a man. A shotgun and a rifle would come later in my teen years.

        A golden moment occurred when I was 19 at Christmastime. Having fallen in love with a beautiful brunette who had been my sweetheart for three years, I asked Dean to marry me. It took my breath away when she smiled and said “Yes!” We bought rings that night and mine has been on my hand ever since. The decision to marry Dean was the second greatest decision of my life.

        The greatest decision of my life was to surrender my life to Jesus. That happened when I was 18. I had been going to church all my life but it took me 18 years to realize that God had a plan for my life that could only be realized by allowing Jesus to be Lord of my life. Sixty-seven years into that journey, I am deeply thankful for the breathtaking moment when I said “Yes” to Jesus.

        I still cherish the moment when walking up the street in misting rain my son David hugged my neck and said, “I love you Daddy.” He was three then, suffering from leukemia, and would die in my arms two months later. But that moment, and those precious words, remain etched in my memory bank to this hour.

        It was a golden moment when in 1956, less than a month after the death of our son, I knelt before the Methodist bishop who ordained me into the ministry. That night I made a vow to serve where I was appointed, a vow I kept until I retired at age 70. While the United Methodist Church is now in turmoil about its future, I remain thankful for a church that gave me the privilege of serving Jesus for 48 years. About the future I am not worried; God is still in charge and he will continue to call people to participate in his plan to redeem the world.   

        The births later of four more sons were breathtaking moments for Dean and me. No parents have ever been more thankful to God for the miracle of birth. Our boys are all in their fifties now and we are proud of the men they have become. They were gifts from God, gifts which continue to bring joy to our aging hearts.

        Many breathtaking moments have occurred in my life as a pastor. Every time I knelt in prayer with someone who was turning to Jesus for help was such a moment. Frequently my breath has been taken away when I realized that in a particular moment, in a certain place, I was right where God wanted me to be, trying to do what he wanted me to do. Such moments are priceless. There are many which I treasure, like the time a policeman who had arrested one of my sons came to my home and asked me help him quit drinking and get right with God. Those are moments you never forget.  

        In these years it remains exciting to awaken each morning and wonder what breathtaking moments are yet to be experienced. They are indeed the way life should be measured. I am confident there are many more to come! + + +