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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: This life story begins in 1973 (kind of) – part 14

When Providence Steps In

Having gone 13 episodes already into the true events of 1973 – the events of a summer now fifty years ago –we pause here to take you back to the introduction, something we did not do when we began.

Should you be arriving late, this will give you the foundation of what you will be reading for some time in this space. If you have traveled along with us for a while, it will remind you, too, that this story at its core, like your own, reminds us of what makes us who we are. We are glad you are traveling this epic journey with us.

It was an epic summer, this summer of 1973.

That says it all for me.

I can say those words, and it seems that all the years before the summer of 1973 and all the years after her kind of gather around her in wonder. I am not sure if I can answer the “Why?” of that summer. I was only sixteen, going on seventeen by August’s fourth sunrise, the original beginning of the life-story the fourth of August, nineteen-hundred and fifty-six.

As we reflect, I am wondering if you, too, can look back at sixteen-almost-seventeen and say that period was a powerful rite of passage. That’s the year life as it was at one time began to change, to take shape, when Life began traveling down a road that I suppose will ultimately lead to a final sunset, someday, somewhere. In between that summer and that glorious color-scattered sunset are hundreds of events that lead to what it is the Lord had in mind all along.

Somehow, I think you understand.

So, why does the Lord give us that summer, just the way it unfolded? The tragedy that was unfolding a little every day was part of God’s plan (Ah, that I know!). But the curious events of the time we are now considering comprise a part of the Lord’s great Providence where life steps up to a new level: the unparalleled experiences, the growing up in a flash, the walking onto a grueling job that would separate a man from not so much of a man so fast it’d make your head spin, as we say, and more.

Oh, the job: ah, it was much more than a job. So much more.

Had Providence not stepped in, the job that summer could just as easily have been working in that shoe store right down the way from the Winn Dixie in that little hometown that was all I knew at that time. That was where I worked when I lit out from my junior year of high school in May of 1973. I could’ve just stayed with the shoe-store job through the summer and had that as a backdrop upon which you and I could glance back as we are now. But it wasn’t to be. I am convinced that it would not have been the same, that that job would not have served as a proper setting for such a deep element of self-reflection and for such a profound experience that, in its own subtle way, made the tragic events that were unfolding to make a little more sense. These events needed the perfect setting, and the bricklaying job filled the bill best of all.

I cannot even explain it, only state it as fact.

Yet it is something I have always understood. Sometimes you just know something, and you do not know why you know it – but you do not question it either. You just marvel at it.

Again, you understand.


Continued next week.


Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a writer and preacher of the gospel. And, after a ten-year hiatus, he’s also returned to work with students at Ferris High School as well. 

In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email or call or text (972) 824-5197.

Ellis County Press

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