Precious Memories

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The music was different here. Unlike the staticky radio in Daddy’s Ford, this music was living and active, piercing my nine-year-old heart and energizing my soul. We didn’t just listen to the music; we sang along, from the youngest Sunbeam to the oldest member of the Brotherhood. This was the wooden church of my childhood.

I knew this place well as I’d been in attendance since the womb. I knew the banners that flanked the choir loft and could pledge allegiance to both American and Christian flags. Not only did I know the mural that guarded the baptistry, but I’d also stood trembling on the hidden stairs awaiting my immersion. I knew every engraved alphabet on the communion table and often awaited the service by copying the letters onto my bulletin. In. Remembrance. Of. Me.

The oak podium was a sturdy one, on a level just a step above the rest of the congregation. Jabez Rigsby led the singing, with one hand on his well-worn hymnal and the other arcing and falling with the tempo of the organ. Everyone pronounced his name “Jay-biss” because a Texas drawl trumps a Hebraic intonation in our neck of the woods.

Jabez always called us to sing a hymn’s first, second, and fourth verses. I sometimes snuck a peek at the words of the third verse just to see if they were sacrilegious. We rarely, if ever, sang them. I guess it was just against our religion.

When we got to the chorus, our volume rose like Lazarus, belting out the shaped notes in four-part harmony. We sang of heaven (“When we all see Jesus, We’ll sing and shout the victory”), of prayer (“O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer”), and of divine guidance (“He leadeth me: O blessed thought! O words with heavenly comfort fraught! Whate’er I do, where’er I be, still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me”). Little did I realize the lifelong impression those words would have upon my heart. 

Despite so much current uncertainty, the lyrics of one of those old hymns keep finding their way into my consciousness.

“I know not why God’s wondrous grace

To me, He hath made known,

Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love

Redeemed me for His own.

As my memory mingles with melody, the chorus continues to resound as loudly as ever.

“But ‘I know Whom I have believed,

And am persuaded that He is able

To keep that which I’ve committed

Unto Him against that day.’”

At the age of six, I made a step of faith toward this Jesus, but it would be later, much later, that I could begin to say, “I know the One I’ve believed in.” H.M. Spence commented, “Not I think I know him, but, as one would speak of a friend whom he has long and intimately lived with, I know him.” But knowing Him as a gentle Shepherd is much different than knowing Him as a Man of Sorrows. Walking with Him in the valley of shadows requires more stamina than ambling beside still waters.  

When I say I know Him, do I act as if He is my Keeper? Am I persuaded of His trustworthiness and confident of His ability?

This childhood refrain based on 2 Timothy 2:12 conveys rich meaning. Emphasizing a Greek metaphor, the writer encourages his reader to entrust his Lord with everything of value. Today, the truth assures us that God’s keeping ability is more secure than a safety deposit vault. We can consign our treasures to His watchcare. Whether our valuables are our children, grandchildren, or future, the Divine Keeper will guard whatever we transfer into His care. “The Lord is your keeper…He will guard your soul” (Psalm 121:5,7).

Invite the truth of this Scriptural hymn into your experience today. Allow the confidence of His ability and the conviction of His truth to permeate your mind. Deposit your most valuable treasures into His safekeeping and depend on His angelic guard to protect them from all hostile invasions. Be persuaded that He is able to keep that which you’ve committed to Him until your last day on this earth. That is something to be thankful for.