Episode 1 of my Early Years
One of my earliest memories happened when I was around 4 years old. My family would go over to my mom’s parent’s house on Sunday’s. Those were good memories of my dad being kind, my mom having fun, my sister was happy, and I was already searching for answers. On Sunday my sister and I would join our grandparents at church. I do not remember the songs or messages, but the message of God’s love was clear. Those hymnal songs echo the love message of an amazing savior who was already chasing me down, calling me.
After church it was lunch time. Grandma would warm up the cast iron pan and make grilled cheese sandwiches. There was just something about that Velveeta cheese, Kilpatrick’s white bread and plenty of butter on both sides that made it taste so delicious. The aroma of love from the melting cheese was so delightful. Grandma made them so perfectly, so tasty! I can still taste those moments, and all the flavor of that sandwich at any moment, lovely moments no matter if it was sunshine or rain.
The day would be filed with so much outdoor activities of fun; building hand pushed go carts, stilts and much more. The evening was dinner, Hee-Haw, Lawrence Welk, and the Wonderful World of Disney. I mostly just enjoyed the togetherness that we all shared. There was so much laughter as everyone was watching the humor of Hee-Haw. Every adult just spoke for hours talking about everything. My grandpa was such a gentle man, so sweet to my grandma.
Life seemed to continue, on a relatively normal path for the next few years. Then the phone call came in. It was my dad’s sister who still lived in Illinois where my dad grew up. Their dad died. When my dad returned from the funeral, I was about 10 years old and I began to see some subtle changes in my dad. He wasn’t as patient or kind. He was getting a little physical with mom, my baby brother Jeff, and me.
But then I did something, and it changed everything. I went to church all on my own. It was Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in San Jose that I walked to and met Jesus. I am not the person who wrote the date down, but I was saved in the summer between my 5th and 6th grade of school the best that I can remember.
At the end of the Sunday school class the teacher, Mr. John asked, “if anyone wanted to know Jesus.” I did, but I was so shy. I was going to tell him yes after class, but other kids stayed around to talk to John. The following Sunday it was a repeat of last week. So, on the third Sunday I quietly prayed that everyone would leave so I could talk to John at the end of class. When class ended everyone left. It was just me sitting on the chair. John, who was a big man, knelled and asked me if I wanted to know Jesus. “I said yes,” and he led me in the best Baptist sinners’ prayer. Bam, I was saved! A few months later, I was baptized with my sister. Great moments! Stay tuned for the additional episodes of my most amazing life! Yes, my book will be coming soon!! Thank you!
James Wheeler is a son of God, loving husband, daddy, Co-Writer, Teacher, Speaker, Mentor, & Financial Professional