A Town Named Gantt
I don’t know what brought the following to mind, and I’m pretty sure I’ve written about my experience visiting the Town of Gantt, South Carolina before. I just have a feeling that it will speak to someone’s heart today and maybe, just maybe bring a little smile into your life in a pretty dreary time.
I am originally from North Carolina––born and bred. I was preaching in the Carolinas a few years ago when I found myself driving near a little town called Gantt, SC. I thought, “How cool can that be? A town with my name!” So, I drove the few extra miles to exactly where the GPS said Gantt, South Carolina was located, and I found it! What I found was. . . . . nothing. Not a store, not a town hall or police department – just a few streets with mill houses and house trailers. Let it suffice to say I won’t be giving anybody directions to the town I was named after.
As I drove up the Interstate back to my Uncle Jim’s house I chuckled a bit and snorted, “Well THAT was a big disappointment!” I guess I had envisioned a quaint little southern town with oak tree-lined streets, soda shops with a bench outside; maybe a sign on an antebellum house that has Old Doc Whatshisname on it. I had even planned to take a photo of the sign reading, “Welcome to Gantt, South Carolina”, and post it on Facebook. However, the only sign I saw was on an old garage building that said, “Alternators Rebuilt” – it was closed. I did read later that there is the grave of some Judge Richard Gantt buried somewhere in the area, but the post’s comments said the gravesite was overgrown with pricker bushes and about ankle deep in water. So much for the town of Gantt.
Then the strangest thing happened: An old Larry Norman tune from the early ’70s started running through my head and I couldn’t make it stop. Back in the neolithic period of my ministry I used to sing a lot of Larry’s stuff but hadn’t thought of him or his music in forever – but there was that song. These are the lyrics:
I am a servant, I am listening for my name,
I sit here waiting, I’ve been looking at the game
That I’ve been playing, and I’ve been staying much the same
When you are lonely, you’re the only one to blame.
I am a servant, I am waiting for the call,
I’ve been unfaithful, so I sit here in the hall.
How can you use me when I’ve never given all,
How can you choose me when you know I’d quickly fall.
So you feed my soul and you make me grow,
And you let me know you love me.
And I’m worthless now, but I’ve made a vow,
I will humbly bow before thee.
O please use me, I am lonely.
I am a servant getting ready for my part,
There’s been a change, a rearrangement in my heart.
At last I’m learning, there’s no returning once I start.
To live’s a privilege, to love is such an art
But I need your help to start,
O please purify my heart, I am your servant
Now for those of you who know my history – I am a lot like Gantt, South Carolina. I come from very humble beginnings and over the years from time to time I have thought a great deal more of myself than I ought to. Imagining myself to be more like the shaded streets of an idyllic town that doesn’t exist when in reality I am much closer to a run-down old garage with a faded and falling down sign. I don’t believe myself to be overly prideful, but I have from time to time entertained dreams of greatness and significant achievement in the Kingdom — all for HIS glory, of course.
I so deeply and profoundly want to be used by God––so badly I ache for it. I am 71 years old. My streets are run down and my sign is old, and I haven’t lived up to anybody’s expectations – especially my own. I don’t want to be a forgotten little strip mall in the middle of nowhere that is a disappointment to everybody who arrives expecting something bigger, something better. And then, right in the middle of Gantt, South Carolina I turned a corner and there was a sign. It was faded and worn, barely readable as the sandpaper of time had all but erased its message: Jesus Loves You. I realize now that those three words are all that really matters.
Sometimes, divine appointments so eagerly anticipated do not turn out at all as I expect them to, but each in its own way proves to be significant. That day, my appointment was with Gantt, South Carolina and between two house trailers and a run-down old garage was God’s message to me.
I love you.
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