One day a neighbor came to our door with a Bible in hand which his mother had given him. He had been crying. He told me that he had just learned that his mother had died. He said that his mother had wanted him to start going to church, that he didn’t know much about it, but his mother had given him the Bible shortly before she died. This neighbor was a very worldly man, having a rough background which included drugs, alcohol, and immoral lifestyle. I had tried previously to get him to go to church with us and to have a Bible class. Hee had previously re fused. But on this day he was. ready to try. We began to study the Bible and after a few sessions and his attendance at church, he was baptized. As he came up out of the water, he had tears in his eyes and said, “I don’t know much about this. You will have to treat me like a baby.” I reassured him by telling him that the Lord now considers him a babe in Christ, a child of God – his child. He got a large grin on his face and said “I am his child. That’s great! In the days after his baptism, we studied the Bible and prayed together. He and I did not have the same back-ground but now we had Jesus in common. I began to write “I Am His Child” shortly afterward.
However, some grow weary and pursue sin. About four months later, this new brother slipped back into sin for a moment’s reckless folly. One afternoon he became intoxicated, grabbed his truck keys, drove one mile to a shopping center to purchase some liquor. When he came out of the liquor store, he got into an argument with a man over how he had parked. The man, claiming to be afraid, drove to his home, got his gun, came back and shot my new brother three times as he sat in his truck. He died instantly. I was asked to identify the body at the morgue, an experience I will never forget. The thought occurred to me that here was a man broken by sinful living who, for a short time, was mended and whole. I wrote “Mended and Whole” after performing a memorial service for one who had not learned to follow the Savior in the control of his anger and paid dearly for it.
My father died on the Lord’s day in 1980. My mother died ten years later. They had lived most of their years in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee. Dad had served as a deacon and later as an elder during a difficult time in middle Tennessee, 1940s-1950s. He was a quiet man who became vocal when the situation called fora stand for truth. He was known as a song leader, often leading singing at gospel meetings. Our home was a gathering place for preachers and others who discussed “issues,” My mother taught Bible classes and insisted that we study our Bible lessons on Saturdays before going out to play. She also would sing hymns throughout the day and at bedtime.
I believe the first time I became aware that Jesus would be coming back for his people was from her singing, “When He Cometh.” Both Dad and Mom “went about doing good” in humble, quiet service. Dad often prayed, “Wear us out in thy service, and when thou art done with us here, give us a home with thee in heaven.” After Dad died, I began to think about his attitude to work while he waited in the kingdom of Christ. Over the next decade I worked on the lyrics which then became, When The King Comes to Claim Even Me.
A good personal, family friend, Tommy Hagewood, who preached at the Locust Street church of’ Christ in Mr. Pleas-ant, performed Morn’s funeral and graveside service. After the funeral Tommy asked me if I had ever thought about writing a song about Christian families. I said I hadn’t, but on the plane back from Tennessee, I penned the words to “Led. By The Savior’s Hand” While others will sometimes be critical of those of us who were “born and raised in the 0church, “‘I praise and thank my God for such a blessing!
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 16, p. 19
August 15, 1996