SEIZING THE MOMENT
By: Fred E. Kinzie
It was Saturday afternoon when the call came. The men of the church were
busy working on the first unit of our new building. They were free to work
Saturdays, and being the pastor, I felt obligated to be there-keeping the
men busy by assigning tasks, seeing that materials were on site, and
helping to decide how things were to be done.
On this particular Saturday I was extremely busy-so much so that any
interruption was annoying to me.
The call came from Opal Howard whose elderly father, Burney Thacker,
requested to be baptized. He had been seriously ill, bedfast for some time
and incapable of moving about on his own. I was happy about his desire to
be baptized, but it put me on the spot. I did not want to leave the men who
were working so hard, but on the other hand, neither could I afford to
disregard this summons.
My predicament reminded me that there are some things in life that cannot
be postponed without suffering loss or experiencing serious consequences.
Crisis moments demand immediate attention whether one is acutely aware of
it or not.
“Seizing the moment” is just another way of saying immediate action is
demanded and should be taken. If not, the result could be disastrous. A
person, especially a pastor, cannot afford the luxury of procrastination
without paying a subsequent price of remorse and regret.
In the case of Burney Thacker, postponing and not seizing the moment could
have cost him access to eternal life and left me with a guilt complex that
would be difficult to obliterate.
Many conflicting things crossed my mind as I thought about this call. Why
had he waited until this busy moment to decide to be baptized? He had
resisted vigorously when his wife, his daughter, and son-in-law came into
the church, creating an unfortunate tension between them. Now he wanted me
to drop my important work and bow to his wishes. As I mulled this over,
several reasons why he should wait until tomorrow surfaced. It would be
Sunday and the church folks could share in this victory. At the request of
both his wife and daughter, the church had been praying earnestly for his
salvation. Why should they not be allowed to witness his obedience to God
in baptism? I was elated with his decision yet annoyed at the moment to be
forced to leave my work to accommodate him.
Praying silently, I asked God to remove this inappropriate annoyance. I
knew it was wrong to feel the way I did. It was my duty to go. Should not a
person’s salvation take priority over work and buildings? Was not I called
to Toledo for this purpose? What right did I have to allow anything to
hinder me from doing what I was called to this city to do?
I decided I needed to seize the moment! It could be very important and I
had no logical reason to postpone it. Burney’s son-in-law, Andy, was
working with us at the new church site, which was about three miles from
our old church. I reasoned that he could get Burney and take him to the
church. Clarence Condon, another of our men, could go along and help. We
could meet at the church at six o’clock. The two men could carry him on a
chair into the baptistry. When these plans were finalized, I felt relieved.
I made arrangements for the evening workers and hurried home to change
Andy arrived with Burney at six, and the two men carried him on a chair
from the car into the church and down into the baptistry where I was
waiting. When everything was ready they tipped the chair backwards, and as
they did, I laid my hands on his head, calling the name of Jesus Christ
over him as he was immersed. When they tipped the chair upright again, his
face shone as praises flowed from his lips. Taking him out of the water,
they wrapped blankets around him and carried him home, still seated on the
It was a great moment. His shining face reflected a look of sincere
repentance and a joyous surrender to Christ. I was grateful for responding
to what I now knew was the still, small voice of the Lord urging me to not
put this time off.
I had seized the moment and was thrilled by it. But the next morning I
faced a shocking, frightfully grave situation!
It was Sunday morning and I was preparing to go to the church when the
phone rang. It was one of Burney’s sons calling to inform me that his
father had passed away during the night.
I was shocked and stunned! Now what? I questioned to myself. Would the
family blame his death on his baptism the night before? Would they accuse
the church of following outdated practices not commonly used by other
churches in baptizing? “Why didn’t you sprinkle him instead of immersing
him?” I could hear them asking.
Then; too, what about his salvation? He had yielded to God-that was
unmistakably evident-and been baptized, yet he did not receive the Holy
Ghost. I was shocked by his death, fearful of what the family would now do
and say, and greatly distressed by his going on to meet the Lord without
receiving the Holy Ghost. According to the Bible, a person needs to be born
of the Spirit, as well as the water, to enter the kingdom of God. (See John
Although fearful and distressed, I felt obligated to go the home at once,
not knowing what to expect. There were three sons in the family who could
be antagonistic. I had no idea what their attitude would be. I wondered (no
doubt the enemy put this into my mind) whether I would be welcome.
I prayed all the way there. Apprehensively, I approached the door, wishing
I could run the other way and forget it all! But I could not, so mustering
all the courage I could and with a prayer on my lips, I knocked.
The door opened to reveal one of the sons. He smiled at me and said,
Reverend Kinzie, come on it.”
That cordial welcome relieved my anxiety. Satan had made me feel I would be
rejected by the sons. The realization flashed through my mind the moment I
saw his smile that the son who called me earlier had not sounded hostile or
angry. I had been so shocked at the news – that I had not detected his
attitude at the time, but I remembered it now.
As I stepped into the living room, I found Burney’s wife, Laura, and
daughter, Opal, sitting there weeping. Opal arose to meet me, and evidently
noticing the troubled expression on my face, she quickly assured, “Oh,
Brother Kinzie, don’t worry. Everything is all right. It’s just wonderful!”
Just wonderful? I thought to myself. What does she mean? Her father is dead
and she says, “It’s just wonderful!”
She pointed to a chair, requesting me to be seated. The two of them, with
one of the sons standing in the doorway listening, related the events of
the past night.
When they brought Burney home, his wife had dried him, readied him for bed,
and tucked him in, and he was soon asleep.
At two in the morning he awakened, saying he was hungry. She hurried to the
kitchen and brought him a snack. While eating he beckoned her to his side,
indicating he had something to tell her.
She did as requested and he began, “You know, honey, you’ve been a
wonderful wife to me. You’ve put up with a lot of things from me that you
should not have had to. You’ve been so good and understanding. I’m so
thankful to God for you and everything you’ve been to me.”
With that thankful attitude in his heart, so aptly expressed in those
endearing words, as he finished the last word he broke out speaking in
tongues as the Lord filled him with the Holy Ghost. He continued
speaking for quite some time.
Finally, in English, he began praying the Lord’s prayer-and in the middle
of the prayer his voice drifted off and he slipped out to meet the Lord
with the prayer unfinished.
What a stirring incident! My heart almost burst within me as I thought
about the battle I had fought at the new church building site-and how
the right had won over the wrong in my own heart. Both Burney and I had
“seized the moment.” It was the right thing to do, for there would not have
been another one!
(The above material appeared in a September, 1990 issue of Pentecostal
Christian Information Network