I have heard that Grandpa Middleton was not always a man of God. In his earlier years, he did not go to church at all.
I understand he used to go to moving picture shows and that he loved westerns. Someone said he had a high temper and a short fuse. Maybe he was known to drink alcohol or enjoy tobacco, although I cannot imagine that being the case.
How I wish I had listened to how he came to God. Was it at an old brush arbor meeting? Did he kneel at the altar of some church camp ground? Or did he finally succumb to his Mother's pleading and walk through the doors of a local church?
However and whenever this salvation took place, it was long before I was born. I only remember Grandpa as a prayer warrior and a mighty man of God.
Grandpa was a fiery preacher but would cry aloud when he spoke of what God had brought him from and what God did for him. He was rarely able to finish When He Reached Down His Hand For Me before breaking down in tears thinking of God's love.
Grandpa was small in stature but stood so tall in the eyes of God. He prayed aloud and long. And God listened.
If you were at his house at bedtime you knelt beside the bed, a chair, the sofa, the piano bench, or anywhere you could find a spot while Grandpa prayed. Oftentimes I was impatient with the long prayer that included each child's name, their spouse's name, and each grandchild's name spoken aloud asking God's hand of protection on us all.
He and Grandma had nine children. The prayer would start with Dena (Grandma) and went on to Inez, Paul, Rocky, Cathy, Johnny, Leon, Virginia, Rita, David, Freda, Dorcas, Howard, Jimmy...................and end with Sam and his children. He never failed to name each of us. I often think of those prayers with our names still resonating in heaven and shielding us from the evils of this world today.
Grandpa married countless couples within Johnson County, including Don and I. He performed many christenings and dedications, including Greg and Laura. Sadly, he preached far too many funerals for friends and loved ones. He not only spread God's Word at churches and camp meetings, he witnessed at hospitals, nursing homes, jails, and individual homes.
But, most of all, he loved to minister at baptismal services. He baptized me in Spadra Creek downtown one Sunday afternoon following morning church services.
I wore a plain dress with the skirt pinned between my legs fashioned like bloomers. Friends and family gathered on the creek's bank near the Legion Hut as my two "same as sisters" cousins and I followed Grandpa into the shallow waters to accept Christ as our Saviour. I remember Grandpa wearing a crisp white shirt and black dress pants and taking a clean dry handkerchief to place over my nose and mouth as he immersed me in the cool water. What an inheritance I have received.