Prepare to Meet Thy God

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.

Music in My Early Life

Ready for Sunday morning!

Of all the changes in my life, music has been a constant, a calming balm, a passion within me. Music evokes emotions and memories vividly within me. Hearing a song can take me to a place I have not thought about for years. I often express myself with music by humming, singing, or reciting lyrics. Music became a part of me when I was very young.

My earliest memory of music is being in church. I remember no matter what church service or where, I opened the Red Hymnal Book, singing, even before I could read all the words or music. And I probably knew page 57 was “Amazing Grace”, p. 333, “I’ll Fly Away”, and p. 120 “Victory in Jesus” at that early age, too. (You still remember those page numbers in the Red Hymnal!) My family and I attended church singings on weekend nights to hear local groups. Mama had many albums of them that we played frequently on our stereo. I listened to the records wishing I was the one on the record singing.

My sister and I did start singing together in church. Mama says she gave us a dollar the first time we sang in a church service; although since I was so young, I cannot recall that moment. I know Mama played the piano, and we sang a song during the service. Known as “Kent’s girls”, we sang, and then Daddy preached a sermon in many churches for years.

Around the time I was six years old, Mama and Daddy bought an old upright piano. They placed it in our living room, which had doors separating it form the rest of the house. Jennifer started taking piano lessons first, then when I was nine years old, I began my lessons. I was so excited! I practiced every chance I got. My lessons continued for about two years. Learning a little more on my own, I began to play basic church songs. However, going in to the living room and playing the piano became my sanctuary. I stayed for one to two hours there, never becoming a grand pianist, but I created a sound along with my voice: music.

Throughout my teenage years, much of my life centered on music. One of my greatest joys in high school was chorus. The every day thrill in my heart, walking into a class and singing, was phenomenal to me. I had never experienced being surrounded by so many people who loved music, too.  And here, I found some of my best friends for life, including my Love, my awesome husband.

My early life experiences so deeply intertwined with music molded me. Music is a constant, a calming balm, and a passion.