After reading Psalm 84 today, I couldn’t help but think of Polly. Polly was a man-myth-legend kind of guy in the late nineteenth century. You can learn more about him online.
Today, let’s focus on his walk with Christ.
At forty-eight years old, he converted to Protestantism. He found himself at a prayer meeting he didn’t want to attend, growing angrier the more he stayed. But the preacher prayed over him and the prayer stuck. Polly couldn’t shake what the preacher said.
From that prayer, Polly focused his life on the gospel. His life changed. He changed. So much so, that most of his family and friends thought he had gone crazy. They also didn’t affirm his conversion, leaving the Catholic faith.
A few months after his awakening, he saw a group of people at someone’s house. He found out it was a Methodist Quarterly Conference. Polly joined the meeting. At one point, someone asked him if he wanted anything. His response was, “Yes, I want license to preach.” After assuring the presiding elder that he had changed his “barrooms drinking and gambling” ways, they gave him a license to preach.
I first learned about Polly when I visited the chapel that bears his name, Polly’s Chapel. I officiated a wedding in the small chapel about fifteen minutes outside Bandera, TX. It has his name because he built it himself. When he wasn’t preaching, he was cutting and hauling the stone for the building himself. The dedication of the chapel was a community affair. People traveled upwards of twenty miles to be there!
Now, forgive the history lesson. I want you to appreciate the passion that drove Polly once he committed his life to the gospel. In some ways, it’s the kind of commitment that the psalmist knows of in Psalm 84. “Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise,” he says. Well, what about those who build God’s house!
When you study the psalm, you’ll learn about the Korahites.
This was the tribe that led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron in Numbers 16. God’s response? The ground opened up and swallowed them. Fire consumed others of them. But some survived, and of those, some became worship leaders in God’s temple. We remember them because the title of Psalm 84 bears their name.
We can assume the temple worship-leading Korahites remembered their tribe’s history. Of course a day in God’s courts is better than a thousand elsewhere, especially when you consider where the elsewhere could’ve been. But many of us also know how worship leads our life once we take seriously our call as followers of Jesus. As such, we connect with the words of the psalm.
Polly built his chapel, but he was known more for his care of others. Likewise, the Korahites in the temple didn’t only seek the joy of worship for themselves. They understood their work helped others who wanted to sing God’s praise in God’s house.
You don’t have to build a chapel to help others know the love of God. You don’t have to live at the church either. Instead, you become the chapel. Who we are as God’s church is how others come to know the love of God. I sure hope John’s Chapel is a blessing to you.