My parents moved into their house at 228 Memorial Drive in Barnesville, Georgia in 1955. When I was born in 1958 at the Lamar County Maternity Shelter just up the road and around the corner from the house, my parents brought me back to it and there we stayed. My father would make some noise every once in a while about moving the seventeen or so miles to Thomaston where he worked, but I knew he really didn’t mean it. Ruffins characteristically don’t cotton much to change.
My life has been different from the settled one that my parents lived.
Debra and I married in June of 1978. For the next 14 months, while Debra was finishing her degree at Mercer, we lived in an apartment that was part of an old house owned by the University; our address was 1548 Johnson (Johnson was Debra’s maiden name—it was destiny, my friends, it was destiny) Avenue, Apt. 2, Macon, GA. From there we moved to Louisville, Kentucky where I would attend seminary and moved into the seminary-owned apartment complex that was affectionately known as the Gospel Ghetto; our address was U-7 Seminary Village. After a couple of years we bought a house in which we lived for the next five years; it was located at 251 Saunders Avenue in Louisville.
When I was called to be the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Adel, Georgia in 1986 we moved into their very fine parsonage at 300 Bear Creek Road. Upon my appointment in 1993 as a professor at Belmont University we purchased a home at 5023 Marchant Drive in Nashville, Tennessee where we lived for six years. When I returned to Adel as pastor in 1999 we moved back into the parsonage on Bear Creek Road; we even moved back into the same bedrooms that we had occupied during my first tenure there. There were a few nights when I woke up and looked around and thought I was doing the Time Warp. I became pastor of The Hill Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia in January 2003 and soon we bought our present home at 2906 Sussex Road, a house that I have enjoyed very much.
So, my family and I have been pilgrims although I don’t really think we have been wandering. Every move has been purposeful; every move has been meaningful; in every move we have sensed the hand of God.
Now we are getting ready to move again. Last night I announced my resignation as pastor of The Hill Baptist Church in order to accept the pastorate of The First Baptist Church in Fitzgerald, Georgia, a position that I will assume in mid-December. So we are moving on.
“Journey” is one of the best and most enduring metaphors to describe the living of these lives of ours. Frederick Buechner calls it the sacred journey and so it is. God is in all of it—the good and the bad of it, the happy and sad of it, the mournful and glad of it—I truly believe that. The destination will be reached only when we get home where God is but all along the way every place is home because God is with us there, too.
So we are leaving our home in Augusta in order to move to our home in Fitzgerald—we just don’t know the address yet!
Right now we are thanking God for every step of the journey that has brought us to this place in our lives and we are thanking God for every step that will be taken in days to come. It’s been a wondrous journey so far.