SHORTY AND GRACE
From time to time, I like to write about some of the great Christians I have known, loved, and appreciated over the years. A few months ago, I wrote about James (Brother Jim) Shelby of Clarksville, Tennessee whom I knew back in the mid-1960s. Today, I want to tell you about James Heulan (Shorty) Lowrey and his wife, Grace, whom I knew in Mobile, Alabama in the 1970s.
Heulan stood at least 6′ 6″ tall. Hence, he was known affectionately as “Shorty.” Grace, on the other hand, was a real “shorty,” probably no more than 5′ 1″ tall. But they were a perfect match for each other in every way that counted. They never had any children. Shorty was a master craftsman and worked for Delchamps, a well-known chain of supermarkets along the Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida Gulf Coast. Grace worked at home, when she was not working in the Teachers’ Supply and Resource Room at the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ! Grace was blessed with many skills, including the art of writing poetry.
Shorty also spent many hours working at the church building. He was blessed with a wonderful sense of humor. For a period of time, I taught a survey of the Old Testament in the Wednesday evening auditorium Bible class. To help the members understand the chronology of the Old Testament, I asked them to imagine a clothes line stretching from one side of the auditorium to the other. I pointed out that while the books of the Old Testament do not appear in the Bible in their chronological order, all of the Old Testament events could be “hung” on that clothes line in the order in which they occurred and the various Old Testament books covering those events could be placed on the clothes line accordingly. One day I was walking down one of the hallways of the building when Shorty came out of the auditorium where he had been doing some work. He said to me, “Hugh, I forgot about that clothes line you had stretched from one side of the auditorium to the other, and a few minutes ago I nearly decapitated myself on that thing!”
After I moved from Mobile, I returned to preach in two or three gospel meetings with the congregation. In one of these, Shorty and Grace happened to arrive at church on the Sunday morning of the meeting just as I was driving up to the building. After warmly greeting each other, Shorty said to me, “Well, Hugh, I see that the Lord is not having as much of a problem with you as He once had.” I said, “What do you mean, Shorty?” He replied, “Well, the Bible says that the very hairs of our head are numbered, and I can see that the Lord is not having nearly as much trouble keeping up with the hairs of your head as He once did!” That was Shorty!
Shorty and Grace were devoted Christians. They read and studied their Bibles regularly and never missed a service of the church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, or any service of a gospel meeting. They loved faithful preachers and faithful preaching. Though people of a very average income and by no means wealthy in this world’s goods, they gave generously to the local church and contributed liberally to the support of various missionaries and other good works. I remember a conversation Shorty and I once had in which he said to me that while it was very confidential, he wanted me to see a list of the various works he and Grace supported. I remember being astonished at the amount of money they were giving to the cause of Christ, over and above their regular contributions to the local church.
They lived simply. They lived frugally. No big, fine home; no fancy car. They were faithful saints of God, the very salt of the earth. Shorty has been dead for many years. Grace still lives, and at the age of 93 is still writing beautiful poetry that appears from time to time in the bulletin of the Regency Church of Christ, successor to the Pleasant Valley church. I had hoped in this article to share one of Grace’s poems with my readers, but my space is gone. Perhaps in the near future, I will be able to publish one of her poems.
September 10: La Guardo Church of Christ, Mt. Juliet, TN
September 9, 2014