Just Two Old Tie Clasps
How I miss the “living history books” that could fill in the blanks regarding many of the old soldiers of the cross. CHESTER PARSONS is one such man that while some remain who remember him, most are gone, and with their departure, the incidentals I would love to know. Let me share what I do know of this gentleman (and if any of you readers can add to the history, please do!)
Nestled in the valley between the gentle hills of Morgan County, Ohio is a small, nearly deserted village called Rosseau. My great-grandfather had been a doctor in that village, and my grandfather was born there. The church of Christ existed in that community as well, as the meeting house stood just up the hill on the left on Main Street. On Center Street, not far from the south edge of the town, lived CHESTER and ETHEL PARSONS.
While I had met sister Ethel and their son, I never knew brother Chester personally. When a boy, my father would often take me to Rosseau, and we’d always visit in the Parson’s home. As indicated, I never knew what brother Parsons did to earn a living. All I ever knew about him was the fact he was a beloved gospel preacher, a very humble man of very humble means, but an avid Bible student! I am blessed to have a few pictures of brother Parsons.
When my Grandfather Davis died in 1944, it was brother Parsons who officiated his funeral. I was told that brother Parsons never preached to an audience larger than that funeral. (It was estimated well over three hundred were in the building and hundreds more outside.) Yet, his comforting words abided in the minds of my Grandmother, father, and uncle throughout their lives.
When brother Parsons died, my dad preached that funeral. Now in my library are the few religious books brother Parsons owned; given to my dad in payment for preaching the funeral. Some years later, both the son and wife of brother Parsons departed this earthly life and again Dad was called to preach the funerals.
I don’t know the occasion of the gift, but in my collection of “historical memorabilia” is a yellowed envelope, enclosing two old-fashioned tie claps. In dad’s handwriting on the face of the envelope appears, “Property of Chester Parsons; given to me by his wife Ethel; May 8, 1966.” The envelope was discovered with some other things in dad’s files, but I’ve kept it safe for two reasons: 1) Dad revered brother Parsons and valued those minimal gifts more highly than many other similar gifts, 2) It reminds me of what I’ve been told of brother Parsons; not the least of which is his contentment in life, regardless of how minimal his possessions. The few books and the two tie clasps are fitting reminders of just how we should appreciate even the small things of life!
While you might ponder, “What does this have to do with my soul?” it is these two tie clasps that offer that valued lesson! Remember the story of Jesus and how he sat over against the treasury, behold those who cast in of their prosperity? (Mark 12:41 – 44). While Jesus noted they all cast in money, and many that were rich cast in much, He also noted a poor widow who cast in two mites which equal a farthing. Yet Jesus said, “This poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
Two tie claps are not much; and if you’d see them, you wonder if they are even true clasps, for they are not of any “high quality” whatsoever! Nonetheless, they were brother Parsons’ and both gifted and received as prized possessions! You see, I know sister Parsons had very little of this world’s substance (including those few books she gave my dad), but to her, these were “all she had.”
When we give as we’ve prospered (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9: 5 – 15) our thoughts ought not to be “this is enough.” The passage says, “as we have prospered,” which is defined as “bountifully, lovingly and cheerfully.” It isn’t the quantity as much as the quality, and that amount is determined by the heart of the giver! (2 Cor. 9:7) If you ever knew sister Ethel, you knew her heart was given with those gifts! They were a part of her loving husband whose only claim to fame was “he’s a gospel preacher.” Yet what a bountiful service he gave; one of priceless value to the souls who, though his humble preaching, learned God’s truth and obeyed it speedily!
Friends, sometimes we think money is the answer to all the problems. Certainly, there were financial needs when Paul addressed this subject to Corinth. Paul had financial needs himself and appreciated the contribution of the brethren at Philippi who sent once and again to his necessities (Phil. 4: 10 – 14). When you observe what Peter and John had to give at the temple gate to the beggar, (Acts 3: 1- 10), was the “gift” more highly prized than money? When we are confronted with situations where charity is needed, are we thinking enough to give them something of true value, or just some money that appeases our heart, and minimally fulfills the true need? (Consider James 2:14 – 20)
Yes, these two tie clasps are among the most valued of items I have in memory of dad … and he never used them! Oh, I’ve used the books, and prize them as well! The notes brother Parsons added are still of greater value than the content of the book. I guess the best lesson from these tie clasps is simple this: We’ll all leave something behind by which someone, somewhere will remember us. Let that “something” be the righteous example of serving God!