When thinking about having a new biography written, the question of who to write it always stumps me. Answering someone’s questions about who you are has always seemed a strange way to approach the task of telling others about yourself and your life’s mission. Because who knows you better than you do?
In order to alleviate that emotion of seeming vanity, I decided to take on the job myself.
I was raised by people who found life hard and wonderful at the same time. A farm in central Kentucky is what I call my homeland. The tender shoots that sprang from my grandfather’s carefully plowed rows were lessons about life. Planting, reaping, seedtime, and harvest, these are the bases of all of our existence, really. We planted each spring to make sure we survived the winter’s dark days. Spiritually we are nothing if we are not farmers planting seeds for the Master’s great wedding day harvest.
We celebrated the rain after weeks of drought, always decidedly giving glory to God for His provision.
We fed and housed ornery old Angus and Herford cows as if they were better than we were. We sweated through the heat of tobacco season and we prayed before every meal. We were fed on the baby food of “every good gift comes from the Father.” As we matured, we graduated to the meat of “though He slay me, yet, I will praise Him.”
Surprisingly, no one has ever asked me how I came to follow Jesus. Of course my parents and grandparents held my feet to each precept of Christianity, but just because that is so does not mean salvation for me. Actually, I was wooed. For years, I sat and listened to the congregational songs, and their gospel plucked strings in my heart. It was not until I went to youth camp that it became clear that I had to take part in my Savior’s death by repentance. After camp, I did just that. There was not a parade. There were no fireworks. There were no flaming tongues falling at the front pew where I knelt. It was just Mrs. Davenport and me kneeling there. She prayed the words first, and I repeated them. I have repeated them in some fashion every day since. “Lord, forgive me for I am a sinner.” After words that heavy, God does the great and awesome remaking of a human heart. Nothing is ever the same then. Thank God for that.
Though I did not come from a musically literate family, music has always been a part of me. Each week my mother cleaned the small Baptist church where we attended. My job was to vacuum the never-ending sea of sanctuary carpet. Mom allowed me to take a turntable from our home and listen to records as I swept. At the time, I only owned two LP’s. One I got from a mail order ad of Keith Green. The record was sent on a “just send what you can” basis from Keith’s ministry. “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?” was the title. Keith impacted my life by allowing me to pay for the recording with what I had, which was $2.50. Another LP landed in my pile of two from God only knows where. It was The Gaither Trio recording called “We Are Persuaded.” I would listen to that music for hours, and would often look at Gloria’s smile. I remember being envious of their happy faces and locked arms as they skipped down the sidewalk together. I understood that music then, but understand it even more deeply now. “Because He Lives” was on that recording. I swept, dusted, picked up discarded bulletins, and sang, “I know who holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.”
Last weekend I got off the Gaither’s bus at the arena. I walked along side of Bill into the auditorium. He seemed to be skipping, and so I skipped along beside him. He stuck a microphone in my face on the last verse of Because He Lives and I sang as fine as I could sing. I think my arm made an involuntary sweeping motion.
Planting and reaping. Jesus planted in me. And still today, He is reaping what He has sown. Like Jesus, I am also a planter now. I plant the strange supernatural seeds of faith, love, mercy, forgiveness, trust, and joy… and I do it for the child who vacuums the auditoriums of life.