A walk down memory lane...
It's 1972 at a little country baptist church on Hash Ridge Road in Barboursville, WV. I'm 15 and I'm exhausted. We had been having revival for 6 nights. The night before, the preacher and his wife had a sleepover for all the youth at chruch. The boys had the basement and the girls slept in what was going to become the nursery in a couple of months. My friend, Linda, and I could not sleep. We wrapped our sleeping bags around us and huddled by the window and talked all night. And I mean all night. We never once laid down. We watched the sun come up. When everybody started to stir, we got up and helped Darlene cook breakfast. About noon, we all went home.
When I got home, I told Mom about my "no sleep-sleepover". I told her I was going to bed and not to wake me because I was going to skip the last night of revival. But God had other plans. About an hour before time to leave for church, I woke up and decided, I might as well go on to church since I hadn't missed a night so far and I was awake.
As usual, everyone of our youth group filled the last two rows of the right hand side of the church. When the preacher preached the message, I could feel God speaking right to me. When the altar call was given, my knees began to shake, my whole body quivered. My mind raced. Should I go to the altar, was this my chance, my time? But I was 15, shy and there were about 9 teenagers between me and the aisle. I couldn't do it, I stood still. But God had a different plan. A visitor from another church, a man named Dwight, left his seat and came back to where we stood. He got in front of me and took my hand and talked to me about God's love. The message had been about the thieves on the cross. He made a statement to me that stuck with me to this day. He said that sinners are a type of thief. They take God's love and give him nothing in return. But still I stood, shaking and silent. He went back to his seat, but his words had a major impact.
As we left the church, I made it as far as the front steps and broke down. We were shaking hands with the preacher and God laid it out for me. This was my time. This was why He woke me up in time for church. I paryed right there on those 3 little steps at the front of the church and asked Jesus into my heart. The next week I was baptized in Mud River (and yes, it earned it's name) as our small congregation looked on and sung Shall We Gather at the River. The moment is etched forever on my mind in living color. I could feel the Holy Spirit land on my shoulder that day.
Has the road been easy? No, not always. Were there times when I stumbled? Yes, many. Have I ever regretted my decision? Not for one single moment. He is my all, my love, my life. Without Him, I'm nothing. Because of that earth changing moment at that little revival up that old country road, my life has meaning and my eternity is secure.
So revivals hold a very special place in my heart. My prayer today, as our church starts its revival, is that we will see lost sinners saved, stray sheep return to the fold, and an uplifting of faith and love in God's people.