I was 14. Every night for several years I prayed to God that he wouldn’t let the Lord Jesus return yet. I knew I wasn’t ready. But in my extreme shyness — yes, I was — I could never bring myself to walk down the aisle during the invitation song. And I didn’t know it could be done differently, had never seen anything else.
I wasn’t the only one delaying. Most of the youth group had yet to obey. We were, almost to a man, products of Christian homes, who knew the gospel and had grown up hearing the Bible taught.
The preacher at that congregation, which met in the middle of bean and cotton fields, preached one day on hell. He had been coming on Saturdays to the building — where we’d never had anybody full time — and printed a bulletin, pulling us kids in to help. He knew we knew the gospel. We needed a crowbar to prise us loose.
As the invitation song was sung, the kids started down the aisle. And I hung on for dear life.
I watched 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 kids walk to the front. And still I clung to the pew in front of me.
When my sister, 13 months younger than I, came down the front, the sight of her jarred me loose.
I was no. 10, the last of the group.
To this day, I give thanks for that preacher’s wisdom in teaching us to fear not man, but the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.