Grace Joined With Wrinkles
An Interview with Gale Miller
James E. Farley
The title above is taken from a quotation from Victor Hugo (1802-1885), “When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.”
While preaching a gospel meeting at Shock, WV, in April, 2009, I had the distinct honor and privilege to visit three times with brother Gale Miller. Then, in June 2009, I, along with my wife and my brother Albert, traveled once again to visit with him.
Brother Gale Miller was born February 13, 1910, one of fourteen children. He will turn 100 years old eight months from now, the Lord willing. His body is feeble with age, but his mind is sharp and clear. His wit and sense of humor are well in tact, and our discussions were animated and very interesting. It was a joy to meet him and to spend time with him.
Over the past ninety-nine (plus) years, brother Miller was a farmer, worked in a defense plant during WWII, served as a school teacher and principal for 24 years, worked as a stone mason, a carpenter, a bee keeper, an author and preacher … not to mention being a world traveler. William Howard Taft was the President of the United States when he was born, but the first President he remembers is Woodrow Wilson. He has seen many changes through the years. As he put it, “From horse and buggy to the rocket and the moon.” As we talked about the rapid changes of this world, brother Miller likened them to a snowball, “… the further, the faster,” he said. He remembered as a boy seeing one car per summer. A neighbor had a relative in Virginia who would come each summer when the roads were passable. He said they looked forward to seeing that car each year. He saw his first airplane while hoeing corn as a boy. Someone commented to one of his relatives, “Uncle Jake, how would you like to be up there with that fellow?” The reply came quickly, “Sir, I would not like to be up there without him.”
Samuel Johnson wrote, “He that would pass the latter part of life with honor and decency must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day be old….” It seems that Johnson’s point is that we will reap what we sow. (Galatians 6:7-8). Many older people grow bitter and hard due to the sowing they did while young. However, brother Gale Miller is far from bitter and hard. He is optimistic, pleasant, and delightful to talk with. This, I think, is due to his early “sowing.” He sought the spiritual early on. He was baptized into Christ as a young man by his uncle L.L. Miller at Shock, WV. He preached his first sermon at Millstone, WV, on December 15, 1946, after returning to that section of West Virginia from working in a defense plant at Charleston during WWII. From that time, he preached throughout that section of north-central West Virginia, often with little or no pay for his labors. He was happy to do this for, as he has said, his vocation was teaching in the public schools. His avocation was preaching the gospel. For years, he preached the first Sunday of each month at Millstone, WV, and the second Sunday at Locust Knob. At first, he had no automobile and had to find a ride or walk to his appointments. Brother Miller has preached at Shock, Stinson, Spencer, Millstone, Glenville, Locust Knob, Gassaway, Craigsville, and Howesville, West Virginia, and at Sarna, Canada, and in Germany while his son, Gene Miller, was a missionary there. He has authored four books: Gospel Sermon Outlines, Gospel Gleanings, Sermon Outlines From Genesis, and A Romantic View of Revelation.
Gale Miller did not graduate from High School but earned his GED and then enrolled at Glenville Normal College (now Glenville State) where he earned a degree in elementary education. He also attended West Virginia University. He taught in public schools for twenty-four years. His wife, Virginia Ruth Wolfe Miller, was also a schoolteacher and taught for twenty-seven years. After brother Miller retired from the public school system, he worked as the preacher with the church of Christ at Gassaway, WV, for five years. He and his wife have four children, Gene, Yvonne, Carolyn, and Marvin, all of whom are members of the church, and all of whom have served as school teachers at one time.
Brother Miller has traveled far. He and his wife visited every state in the United States, with the exception of Hawaii. He held two gospel meetings in Canada. In the late 1960’s, he traveled with brother Lewis Mikell to the Bible Lands. There he visited Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Italy, and Greece. While his son Gene was in Germany, he and his wife traveled there and visited that part of Europe. He attended the Warren–Flew Debate in Denton, Texas (1976), and the Warren–Matson Debate in Tampa, Florida (1978). Over the years, he attended the Freed-Hardeman Lectureship and the Spiritual Sword Lectures in Tennessee.
Our visits with brother Gale Miller were all very pleasant and very rewarding. He has been (and is) a very good example and influence to his family, to his students, to his neighbors, and to all of us who know him. May God bless him in these latter years of his life, and may God bless us all to glean great lessons from such faithful soldiers of the cross. -1179 Mark Wayne Drive, Louisa, Kentucky 41230. email@example.com
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