A soft melody rose from the piano as the preacher beseeched the Spirit of the Lord to stir the hearts of the congregation. With his “amen”, a song of invitation filled the open-air tabernacle and spilled out into the summer night’s sky. I sat just three rows from the front along the tabernacle’s edge with my mother. Though strategically chosen by a mom who knew the needs of a young child and the probability of a quick exit from the service, my seat had long been reserved at Taylor County Camp Meeting for that special night. For that night, as my father led the congregation in song, I made my way to the altar and asked Jesus to come into my heart.
I was seven years old, possibly eight. I remember the music playing. I remember sitting with my mother. I remember looking up through my tears to see my father directing the music but I do not remember the song. I do not remember the words of the preacher nor do I remember his face. I cannot recall all of the details of that camp meeting night but I will never forget the moment when I became a child of God. I will never forget the tugging of the Holy Spirit on my little heart. I will never forget the grief, the tears and then the joy – ah, the joy!
“I will never forget,” I proclaim….but oftentimes, I do.
There are so many things in life that capture our attention. We readily become distracted by our circumstances, by opportunities, by possessions, by our neighbors. We eagerly follow after whims and dreams, detours that lead us farther and farther from our intended destination, until we finally look back to find that we can no longer see the narrow road on which our spiritual journeys began. We search to find our way; we struggle to hear the voice which was once so familiar to us and we reach out for anything that will take us back home to the true focus of our lives.
I finally found my way back home to Taylor County Camp Meeting almost thirty years after the miraculous night when I became a child of God. As I walked where I once roamed as a child and worshipped where I first experienced true worship, the refreshing waters of remembrance saturated my soul. I listened to God’s praises swell within the tabernacle and within my heart and once again, I felt the unbridled and immeasurable presence of the Lord. A trip back to my spiritual birthplace encouraged and strengthened my spirit and reminded me that no matter how deep I sink into the sea of forgetfulness, God has promised that He will never forget me.
Do you remember that moment when you first gave yourself to God, when you heeded His voice and ran into his arms? Do you remember the warmth, the peace you felt after laying your burdens on the altar? Do you remember the joy which caused your soul to leap within you? Do you remember? Maybe it’s time for a trip back home. God is waiting, for He has not forgotten you.