My Big Fat Singing Family
I was sitting in church Sunday night when suddenly I was covered with a wave of nostalgia.
It all started with the old hymn “Are You Washed In The Blood”. Instantly, I was in a time machine, traveling back to Lea Springs Baptist Church, in Grainger County, Tennessee. I pictured Daddy singing in his deep, bass voice, “Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb…Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”
Daddy loved that song. He belted it out with passion and conviction. He would get all fired up during his sermon, because some segment of the Southern Baptist population was trying to take all of the “blood music” out of the hymnal. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.” he would preach, as he pounded his fist on the pulpit. Daddy was an old time preacher man. He verged on being an ah-ha preacher. You know what I mean? “And I tell you brother, ah-ha, there is nothing on this earth, ah-ha, as wonderful as heaven, ah-ha.” Grady Nutt used to say that his daddy could sling sweat three rows just making announcements. My daddy was right in there with him.
I’ve heard it said that what we think is an opinion. What we are willing to die for is a conviction. My daddy had plenty of conviction and he was more than willing to share his point of view, too. “Bill, you come across as harsh sometimes.” Mother would scold him. “Well, it’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m not going to tickle anybody’s ears or beat around the bush. I’m going to preach the truth from God’s Word.” He never waivered in his philosophy or his message.
I was jolted back to reality when our Minister of Music led us in the toe-tapping (Baptists don’t dance, LOL) song, “I’ll Fly Away”. Another wave of memories flooded my mind. We were at home. Donna was playing the piano. My brothers and sisters-in-law, Mother, Daddy, me, Nene, and Suzanne were standing around singing. “I’ll fly away oh glory, I’ll fly away.” Daddy, Curtis, and Sonny would echo “In the mornin'” “When I die, hallelujah bye and bye. I’ll fly away.” we would all join in, raising our voices in one accord. How precious the memory.
Then, from some random place, lodged deep in my brain, came a flashback of my Grandpa Payne. I don’t recall that he was a devout Christian. I never gave it much thought when I was a child. I just know that his last day on earth was spent moseying around the house singing, “Whispering Hope”. He vocalized those beautiful lyrics, “Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice. Making my heart, in it’s silence rejoice.” A few hours later, he sat down in his recliner and went to sleep, to wake up in heaven. What a way to go, no suffering, no pain.
Contemplatively, I left the evening worship service. All the way home, I pondered the unusual chain of memories. It was different from times when thoughts of the past would pass through my mind. These events marched through my soul, like a breath straight from heaven. I had received a visit from family members who have gone before me. I had experienced something very rare and special. No, it wasn’t something of the occult or other-wordly. It was a gentle reminder of how much God loved me, and that I have received His free gift of eternal life, through my faith in Christ. It was a thankfulness that I had been taught to “cherish that old rugged cross”.
One might interpret this post as being sad, but I don’t write it as such. I feel overwhelmingly blessed. Blessed to be so rich in heritage. Overcome with emotion that God would allow me to be born to parents who loved the Lord with their whole hearts, and taught me to do the same. My life has been enriched to have siblings with such warmth, character, charm, personality, and charisma.
In a world where the family unit is becoming a thing of the past, I hold tight to the values taught to me by God-fearing parents. I live with the knowledge that the separation from them is temporary.
I feel abundantly blessed, indeed.