Thursday, December 2, 2010
With God, Enough...
The stakes had been driven in Karl's field following a paltry yield of barley. The benches had come from the assembly hall down the town-line road. The posters had been tacked to the post office bulletin board. The preachers in no less than four denominations had announced the special week from their pulpits. And now Brother Fuller was in town, and the opening Friday night just hours away.
That afternoon Fuller had brought together two dozen pillars of prayer in the tent and for 90 minutes they had importuned God's visit and power upon their struggling, recession-weary community. He said that the Master in Mark 6 had called His followers out of the everyday into a desert place, a dry place, and there He had performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Not in the city but out in the desert places. And this is where these faithful people of Oklahoma had found themselves for the last four years.
Dusk with its cooling realization had come, and my wife and I, together with another young couple, had secured seats in the front third of the benches under the canvas. All of us felt the weariness of the day drifting away in the anticipation and good cheer of the gathering. The sawdust was underfoot. The banners on the tent wall: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Our friends were new to this experience, but it had not taken much courteous coaxing. A poor second crop. A part-time job disappearing with the closing of the lumber yard in town. A teen-age son in rebellion and mixing with some undesirables after school.
The music began complete with fiddles, banjo, drums, accordian and trombone. The old favourites brought a comfort and an encouragement. "Got Any Rivers? You think are uncrossable. Got any Mountains? You can't tunnel through. God specializes in things thought impossible. He'll do for you what none other can do."
And then the message from Brother Fuller. Parts of it remain still now, clear in the memory, filled with promise, and filled with the thrill of our young friends stepping forward in response to the call of Jesus:
"Enough, friends, to be in His family;
To relish in the engagement of real, caring prayer;
To know that His Testament bequeathes us
Life, unburdened conscience and new spiritual power.
To sense foretastes of Heaven.
Enough, to see His artistry at break of day;
To hear His serenade in the turtledove;
His optimism in a youngster's laugh.
To thrill at His power in the thunderbolt,
In the stinging wind over dry fields,
In the deluge that fills the watercourses
In mere minutes.
Enough, to hear his words of rebuke
To the Enemy, the Slanderer,
And his underlings who whisper, threaten or foreclose;
To understand His assurance that no man, no devil
Shall take a child out of His hand.
This is our Father,
As represented by our Elder Brother.
This is salvation, and
This is forever."
The gathering and the ushering away of new converts. The singing of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee". The dismissal of the assembly out from the tent to the clarity of a sparkling late-summer night sky. The scenes remain vivid and awe-inspiring to us, some thirty years later.