Born From Devotion

by | Apr 11, 2020 | Devotion, Obedience, Trust

At 85, Ernest Raines is not slowing down. What keeps him going? He makes toys. In fact, his home in Rosharon, Texas, about 30 miles south of Houston, is full of wooden toys — cars, trucks, planes — each handmade by Raines himself. And he plans to continue to build more toys. “If you sit around, you’re going to mope and groan and not want to get up,” the longtime preacher and carpenter told The Christian Chronicle.

Why has this retired minister and carpenter continued to make so many wooden toys?

One reason is so that he can see the smiles of people’s faces when they see the toys. “I love making the toys because it makes so many people happy,” said Ernest.

He first began his hobby more out of necessity. He and his wife, Margaret, raised nine children – four biological children and 5 adopted children. When money was tight, he began making toys for his children as Christmas presents.

He began devoting more time to his hobby when he was in his 70s when Margaret suffered a massive stroke. Chellie Ison reports: “The stroke left Margaret unable to talk, chew or swallow. She was paralyzed, left with only the ability to swing her right arm as a signal that she needed something.” So Ernest devoted his life to caring for his beloved wife. “Mom was dad’s best friend,” son Tim Raines said. “Her care and happiness were his No. 1 priority in life.” And, he worked on the toys while he cared for her. “I could make the toys and care for my wife at the same time,” he said.

He also used his carpentry skills and ingenuity to provide the specialized care that his wife needed. Chellie Ison shares insights from some of the Raines’ children:

“Dad had to find ways to care for mom that were a result of his varied life experiences as not just a preacher, but also a farmer, mechanic and carpenter,” said Tim Raines, one of Ernest’s sons.

With his son’s help, Ernest Raines built tracks on the ceiling around his home, enabling him to move Margaret from one room to another. He could get her out of bed, bathe her and even put her on an exercise bike to help keep her circulation going.

“Dad had to use a seat belt and various straps to place her on the exercise bike, which he had to ‘pedal’ with his hands,” Tim Raines said.

He also felt that the expensive, liquid diet doctors had her on wasn’t helping her get well, so he developed a special meal he would feed her three times a day via a feeding tube. He called it “Ernie’s Nourishment Drink,” a mixture of sweet potatoes, oatmeal, peanut butter, yogurt and a small amount of chocolate “for flavor,” he said.

Then, in April 2011 — almost four years after the devastating stroke — Margaret suffered another stroke that took her life. Ernest lost his wife of 57 years, his best friend and companion whom he had loved and cared for deeply.

After Margaret’s death, Earnest has spent more time in his workshop building the toys he loves. “After my wife died, it was my life,” he said.

Chellie Ison declares that this preacher’s hobby was born out of devotion. Ernest’s children agree. They said that their dad’s story is an incredible example of love and devotion — not just to their mom, but to God. *

His love and devotion reflects the love that God has for each of us.

God said of His people: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). He demonstrated His love for us most profoundly through the gift of His Son Jesus who died on the cross for our sins so that we might be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23; 1 John 4:9-10).

God will save those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

God’s love for us was also born out of devotion. Won’t YOU respond by devoting your life to Him through your trusting obedience?

David A. Sargent


Born From Devotion