Jimmy Gravley says God keeps tugging at his heart
by By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Jan 21, 2013 | 2185 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There is a story people sometimes tell of a little boy flying a kite who watched it soar higher and higher until it got lost in the fluffy clouds overhead, said Jimmy Gravley, a construction company owner and church youth pastor.

Someone else came along and asked the boy how he knew the kite was still there even though he could not see it from below. The boy replied that he knew because, every once in a while, he could feel a tug on the kite’s string.

That is how Gravley describes the thing he said drives him and gets him through each day, his Christian faith. Though he cannot see God with his eyes, Gravley said he feels that God keeps tugging at his heart, like a kite on a string.

Originally from Calhoun, Ga., Gravley moved to Birchwood with his family when he was a teenager. After graduating from Rhea County High School and taking some classes at Chattanooga State Community College, he started his own construction business. He now juggles the business with his work at church pastoring youth, and at home raising a family with two children under age 6.

“I find myself pulling my hair out and asking God how I can take on anything else,” Gravley said. “Then, he sends help.” 

His business, Gravley Construction, in Birchwood, has him working most days before turning his focus back to his church and family. But even then, he said his mind is always on them even when he is swinging a hammer or installing flooring at work. Gravley said he has been trying to become a master of multitasking.

“When I’m working on someone’s home, I’m thinking about the youth,” he said.

Gravley is a member of Oasis Revival Center, also in Birchwood. He said the nondenominational church started in 1999, meeting in people’s homes. When it finally had its own building, their new meeting place caught on fire and burned down. Gravley said the decision was made to rebuild. Since then, he said, the church has been trying to reach people in the community with its Christian message by doing things like knocking on doors and offering bus rides so everyone who wants to attend Sunday morning and Tuesday evening services has the transportation to do so.

In addition to being the church’s youth pastor, Gravley drives a 28-passenger bus for the church and is a singer on its worship team.

While he as very quick to give credit to everyone else involved in the church, he admits the service schedule creates some unique challenges for the bus drivers who must have their buses ready to pick up children and youth beginning at 4:30 in the afternoon on Tuesdays.

“We find ourselves working half-days to get our buses ready,” Gravley said.

As a licensed general contractor and construction company owner, he routinely does projects like converting screened-in porches to finished rooms and working on houses that he has chosen to “flip” by purchasing and renovating them to resell at a later date.

Rachel, his wife, works as a medical assistant and they have two children, 5-year-old David and Jessica, 4.

He said tragedy struck his family when his older sister, Jessica, died in a car accident before his daughter was born. When Rachel was pregnant with their daughter, they decided to name her after Jessica. When baby Jessica was scheduled to be born by C-section, they had to choose a different date than originally planned. Gravley said he realized later that his daughter’s birthday, Sept. 8, would be the same as his late sister’s birthday. Once the baby was born, he called his mother to tell her the news. When he mentioned the time of birth, his mother fell silent in shock. He said she then told him that baby Jessica was born not only on the same date as but at the same time as well.

He and his wife were both very surprised by that piece of news, he said. But they took it as a sign that everything was going to work out well for the family.

“God knew what he was doing,” Gravley said. “There was another baby being born into this world that was going to do great things.” 

Much of his time is spent going from one responsibility to another, and he said his wife has told him she does not understand how he can manage to stay calm with the stresses of running a business, helping the youth in his church get through tough times and raising a family.

“It’s tough to balance,” Gravley said. “You sit there and juggle the things of life, wondering when you’re going to drop something.”

His solution is to keep going regardless of stress, and points to his faith as “the only reason” he is able to accomplish as much as he does.

He advises anyone juggling things like ministry and other responsibilities to pray and know that there is a greater plan for their lives than they can see with their own two eyes.

“Don’t ever, ever give up,” Gravley said.