When I was a little bitty boy growing up in Indiana, I used to go to church with my grandmother on occasion. It was a little old country church right at the edge of the little hamlet just a couple miles from where she lived. Typical country church for its time; cars pulled up on the front yard and no air-conditioning. In the summer time there were screens in the windows and fans. Hand fans were given from Woods Funeral Home with their advertisement on the back of the fans, remember?
It was a well maintained clapboard painted white church building. It had two doors in the front. It was said at one time the men entered the church through the doors on the right and women through the doors on the left.
I especially remember one particular Sunday I was with her; it was what they called, a baptizing day. The church had just finished a ten day revival meeting and the first Sunday of the meetin' they had an all-day singin' and dinner on the grounds. One of those out-of-town fancy preachers came and he truly had "preached the word."
On the last verse (and you sang all four verses - five if the song had five) of the "invitation" song Luther Squires came forward saying he wanted to be baptized. Now ole Luther was one of the wildest characters to ever live in them parts. He stole more chickens, goats, hogs, played more poker, quit more women, married more women, and drank more liquor than any fella to have ever lived in that county. Well, that's what they said. You know, sometimes the only things you learn about others is the gossip of kin folks.
It was said Luther had cut a wide path, or as some would say, cut a wide swath in his time. He was the best definition for the word trifling that one would ever hear. Look that word up in your Webster's.
Well, everyone (most everyone - never in a church is everyone happy about everything) was so happy on this Sunday morning that Luther had made such a decision. He was gonna get saved! The preacher, Brother Hickman, told him, "We're goin' down to the creek to do the baptizing and I'm gonna immerse you in the creek." When they got down to the creek, the creek banks are lined with folks. Seems word had circulated of Luther's decision and a crowd twice the size of the morning's gathering is now there for this momentous occasion.
The preacher led Luther out into the creek. The water was about waist high and out of one of Luther's pockets floats the ace of clubs. They take another step and from another of Luther's pockets comes the ace of diamonds. Another step and out floats the ace of hearts. As brother Hickman turns Luther to face the good folks watching from the bank, yep, out floats the ace of spades.
Standing on the bank watching all the happenings is Luther's good mother, Esther, Sister Esther Squires. Seeing what had just taken place, she is beside herself and says, "Oh my, oh no...oh Lord now there's no chance for Luther." Somebody standing close to her said,
"I don't know where he's goin' but with a hand like that, if he don't get in, then there's no hope for the rest of us."
Hey, you can't make this stuff up! You think I'd told a story to you? That's the way it happened one Sunday back in my childhood.
July 23, 2014