Careless Soul, why will you linger?
Wandering from the fold of God,
Hear you not the invitation,
O Prepare to meet thy God.
Standing up and opening the Red Hymnal, I read those words, “Prepare to Meet Thy God.” My heart pounded heavy in my chest, I was not prepared. Thursday night, the fourth week of July, at our church summer revival, I was 8 years old. All week I had seen other folks being saved. I think I knew this week of revival was going to be different for me. I recalled the night my sister was saved a few years before. On the way home, I wept to my family, I’m just so happy she was saved. I felt the joy of Mama, Daddy, and my sister.
However, this evening, my heart felt different. I do not remember the sermon that night. Those words, “Prepare to Meet Thy God,” convicted me. I looked up at Mama and said, “I’m lost.” She hugged me and guided me to the altar, the front bench of the church. I cried, prayed to God to save me. I wanted to go to Heaven. Suddenly, all my insides filled with an indescribable peace, a joy began to flow. I heard within me, “Yes, you are saved.” When I looked up, everything was so bright, my eyes adjusting to the light, but I recognized it as God’s light shining down on me. I spoke out loud, “I’m saved!” Mama and Daddy were hugging me, rejoicing, shouting. My sister hugged me tight, too. Then the Preacher asked everyone to come around and shake hands with me. What a feeling to be hugged on by so many people at one time.
The next day, Mama, my sister, and I went to downtown Canton to shop for a new dress for me. That night, I would join the church to be baptized on Sunday morning. I’m sure we probably told the ladies in the store I had been saved the night before. With my new soft pink lacey dress on, I stood in the front of the church that night. The Preacher asked me to tell the church my desire. I said, “I was saved, and I want to be baptized and join the church.” Once again, the congregation came around to shake my hand. Afterwards, I told my family that I had never smelled so many different perfumes in all my life at once.
Sunday morning, I dressed in the same dark pink, terry cloth dress I wore the night I was saved. This was now a special dress. The other people who had been saved and joined that week gathered with the church at our outside baptism pool. The Preacher spoke a few words, and he baptized everyone except me. My Daddy baptized me, filled with the Holy Spirit, and saying “By the authority of God’s Word and the profession of your faith, I baptized thee, my sister, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” (This is from my memory, so it may not be the exact words!) I came out of the water, and once again the indescribable joy filled me. I smiled a huge smile the rest of the day. I now had within me what my Daddy, my Mama, and my sister had. I was a born again child of God. I was saved. I was prepared to meet my God.