The Still Standing Church

Last week I had the chance to go with my fiancé’s family up to Branson, Missouri for a little mini vacation. It was greatly anticipated as well as lots of fun. We had seen a show, ate at Lamberts, and even managed to get a roll or two thrown at us. (Lambert’s fans will get that reference.)
On our way back home, my fiancé was riding along with me and we decided to make a stop at Missouri’s famous Ozarkland Country Store. There are several billboards advertising it, as soon as I saw one, I took the nearest exit to find the store. Unfortunately, using my internal GPS system (circa 1992), I found myself on a dirt road with no entrance back onto the highway. I didn’t know where to go from there except to follow the old dirt road, and hope for the best. As I kept driving, looking for a sign of civilization and an opening back on the main road, something caught my eye. We had just passed a curve in the road, when an old run down still standing church appeared in the middle of a field. 
Being the preacher’s kid that I am, my curiosity was peaked and I quickly turned my car into the old parking lot despite my fiancé’s request to keep driving and not stop. I soon parked the car in front of the church, got out and looked around. The church was definitely abandoned as trees and weeds had overcame it. The building from the outside looked sound, but you could tell the church had not been used in years. What a shame my fiancé and I both thought of the closed down location. It’s capacity to reach people was still there, but it’s living purpose was no more.
As we examined further, we noticed an old cemetery was just off the way. We went and looked at some of the tombstones where the dates went well back to the 1800s. In these moments, it was as if we had taken a time machine and went back to the past. All the while, so many questions are hitting our heads. “Why isn’t this church functioning?” “What made them close the doors?” “Why was this beautiful place abandoned?”
In the stillness of my pondering thoughts and taking everything in, I realized that although this church was built to teach and reach people, it’s functions no longer existed. It had succumbed to its end with no life left, with only a handful of tombstones marked in memory.
In life, it’s easy to get so busy we forget why we are here. It’s easy to succumb to the status quo. However, Every one of us was built for a Purpose just like that old church once was and we must not forget our identity and the people we are meant to reach. You see, I want to leave something more behind on this earth than just another tombstone or an empty house. We must live our lives with vibrance, intention, and purpose because that’s the kind of life we were meant to live. A life Fully alive. If we don’t live life to the fullest now, we may soon find ourselves abandoned of the very ability to live life to the max. This old church displayed what once was and stood frozen in time. My pondering question is this, “Many years from now, when someone is to look back on your life after your time is up, what will they find?” Will they find old relics of a life once lived? Or will they discover a legacy that continues to give and impacts the world for what is to come?” This old and sturdy yet secluded church is an example of a choice we all will make. Let’s hope we all make the right choice. 
If you happen to go on this old road, you will discover this still standing church. As my fiancé and I left the location and arrived back on the highway, I thought of the church’s potential, purpose, and posterity, and all at once, I found an old poet’s words to be true: “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.” 

Live your life of purpose to the fullest.

Published by

Brandon Baumgarten

Brandon Baumgarten grew up in the small town of Oilton, Oklahoma and was elected to serve the Oklahoma FFA Association as State Secretary, State President, and as a National Officer Candidate representing nearly 25,000 students on the local, state, and national levels from 2011-2013. Afterwards, Brandon launched his speaking career and authored the highly sought after leadership book, Caught Up & Called Out, hoping to help others see the impact they can make on this world. He is a professional speaker, speaking at over 100 different events each year, and a graduate from Oklahoma State University in Agricultural Leadership, and was even named a top 10 student. He is a Zig Ziglar Legacy & Youth Certified Presenter and his message is always to engage, encourage, and empower you to do something big in your life! No matter if you are a student, teacher, parent, or business executive, Brandon's presentations are certain to make you laugh, think, and realize your impact is about to begin!

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