Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.
Years ago, when I was in elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida, I went to Sunday school at a little church a little more than a mile from my house. The church was within walking distance, and when I eventually got a bike, I rode. Each Sunday before separating into our small grade-level groups, we met together for opening exercises and music. Mr. G was our pianist.
I never actually knew Mr. G’s last name. It was too long and complicated for us to pronounce, he said, and G was all that we needed. This was just before and during the early days of WWII and since then I have often wondered if Mr. G. was a refugee from central Europe. He was an older man—he looked ancient to me—who lived alone as a permanent resident in a hotel not far from the church.
For the Sunday school, Mr. G played the traditional hymns we sang and also gave us the gift of original songs and choruses he wrote. I remember being impressed by their beautiful melodies and wish I could hear them again.
For Christmas and Easter, Mr. G devised programs for the Sunday school children to present to the church. We practiced weekly for months before the holiday. We sang in parts—for one Easter he prepared a simplified Hallelujah Chorus for us. Those with special singing talents were given solos but singing was not my strong point. I was still included because I had a talent for memorizing and reciting Scripture passages. That year I shared from Luke 2: 1-20 and participating in the program was an important part of my life.
By the time I entered high school, my family had relocated across the bay to Tampa. I moved into a different world with new friends and new interests.
While I was no longer in contact with Mr. G, his influence on my later life remained strong. I have found myself working with young people during most of my life, often putting together or writing plays and programs for school and church. Would I have done all of that without the model of that long-ago friend?
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the friends who guide us on our ways through life. Help us to be worthy guides to those who follow. Amen.
Guy W. Johnson