When I was a teenager attending a small church in a small town, we had a revival.
One of the members of our church was Jack Phillips. Jack did crop dusting. He owned a small plane.
Jack met another airplane enthusiast and a minister in Florida. His name was Bob Shelley. Jack was so impressed with Bob’s preaching that he asked him to come preach a revival in our church.
He told him if he would do it, he would fly him back and forth. Bob agreed.
I was brought up in a Christian home by two very devoted Christian parents. So I already felt close to The Lord before the revival. However, there was something that happened during that week that took me to a deeper level.
Bob insisted we come for a morning and evening service for all seven days of the revival. At the beginning of each service, he led the singing of the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.
By the end of that revival, those words were imprinted in my mind, heart and spirit. I never saw Bob Shelley again, but he left a lasting impression, as did Jack, who found Bob and brought him to us.
Many times over the years, in good and bad times, I would find myself singing that song. It was the most solid advice for life.
Many years later, when I was in my early 60s, Jay and I joined a Sunday School class of people, who were all over 80 years of age.
They had well established traditions. One of them was to begin each class with the singing of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.
When I became the song leader, they allowed me some flexibility in song selection, but they made it clear that their song would always be sung first.
The Lord gave me a special gift in already preparing me ahead of time. I knew all the words by heart. And when I got to look into the faces of those living saints singing that song, it was truly a preview of Heaven.
As the class aged, each experienced health issues. Those of us still able to attend class kept singing. I also went to where the others were in nursing homes and hospitals and sang with and to them there.
It was a steady reminder that wherever we were, we were still joined in heart. We were all seeing Jesus together.
When I was enjoying a peaceful time at the Memorial Gardens today, I felt led to sing that song again.
As I sang, I thought of the wonderful people with whom I had sung that song. I felt connected in the warm embrace of Jesus, Who was bringing those of us in both earth and heaven together again.
I thought of Bob Shelley and wondered if I could find out where he is today. If I could, I was going to contact him and tell him the story that began with him.
I did find out where he is. He probably heard my song this morning. He is one of the fairly new arrivals in Heaven, having just been promoted in April!
Here is the link to information about the wonderful adventures he had after flying in a crop dusting plane from Florida to a small South Carolina church in the 1960s.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, The Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.