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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

Experience of Grace

Elder J. Bryan Adair

 

      I  received  a  good grade  school  and  high school  education in Boone and Callaway  Counties.   I had the advantages afforded other boys and girls  of my age except religiously.  My parents did  not  send  us to Sunday schools, and took us to  church  very little.  Neither of them being professors  of  religion,  I  knew nothing of  the  activities  of  church people only from observation.  I was taught  a  church  was  a very  sacred  organization,  too  sacred  for my parents to have membership  in.   I  was  taught  there was a God and do  not  remember  when  I did not believe that.  I had  thoughts  of  death   and  its  awfulness  at  an   early   age.   Sometimes  when  I had attended a funeral  in  the  neighborhood, I would meditate upon it for several  days.   I  remember when first beginning  to  help  with  the  work, my father took me  to  pull  some  cockle   burrs,  and  finding  the  work   a   bit  distasteful,  I  asked him why weeds had  to  grow  anyhow.  He gave me the Biblical narrative of  the  fall of man from his surroundings in the Garden of  Eden, and I spent many hours pondering why I  must  work and sweat because of the behavior of one man.

     I knew also at an early age that many  people  had  prayer at regular times, and I asked  why  it  was never so in our home.  My answer was that they  felt  people  should  not  pray  unless  they  had  something to pray for.  I occasionally saw someone  baptized, but it all meant nothing until one of my  uncles  was baptized by Elder Archie Brown when  I was  a teenager.  At the water's edge they sang  a  song  and  he announced if there  was  anyone  who  wanted  to come go with this dear brother to  come  forward.   I felt an impulse to go and  feel  yet,  that  I  would have if I had not  felt  my  father  would   have  stepped  forward  and  stopped   me.   Afterwards, I remember asking this uncle questions  relative  to his uniting with the church,  but  he  left  a feeling that I knew nothing of it  and  it  was not worthwhile to try to explain.

     Near  this  time in life, I began to  go  out  into company alone, and went to church often, just  as a place to go.  I heard many things  proclaimed  that  I  felt were not true and had  a  desire  to  answer them.  I thought I was a Hardshell and knew  exactly what they believed.  In high school, I met  theories  that  I thought were contrary  to  God's  way, but all this time, I knew nothing of what the  Bible taught.  I soon had a desire to know what it  taught so purchased one and kept it in a closet in  my  room, and read when no one was watching to  my  knowledge. After reading for some time, I decided that night  as I prepared for bed, I felt to  get  down  upon  my knees and talk to God.  When I was  ready  and  the light out, I started to kneel  beside  my  bed only to find there was a great presence in  my  room.   I stood to ponder that I was there  alone,  no  one could see but God and it was he to whom  I  wished  to speak, so again I tried, only  to  find  the same great presence.  Perplexed, I gave it  up  and  went  to bed to analyze  my  peculiar  curse.   Here I tried to speak a word or two but it  seemed  to hardly leave my lips.

     I was now coming to the close of high school, enjoying the things most boys enjoyed and  looking  forward to making a mark in the world, and that at  farming and livestock raising.  Among the presents  received  at  Commencement exercises was  a  Bible  from a rich old aunt.  I was almost furious  about  it,  as  I felt she should  have  given  something  useful, instead of something to be looked at.   

     Also,   at  this  time,  I  had  formed   the friendship of a young lady, who I felt should help  me make my mark.  But she did not seem to feel the  same way about it, and there for the first time in  life,  I found there were some things I could  not  control  and I was ready to quit life and  all  it  had.   I  went under a cloud as  the  children  of Israel  and under it I lived for eighteen  months.   I felt no one cared for me and I cared for no one.   My  mother  didn't even dare to inquire  into  the  loss  of appetite and restless nights.  If I  went  into  company  I felt I was not wanted  and  if  I  stayed  at  home I could not stand  it.   In  this  period, I tried many things to ease my nerves  and  kill  my  care,  for  I thought  the  case  to  be  entirely  nervousness.  I tried to work myself  to  death, tried tobacco all to no avail, so I took  a  riding horse that we were all afraid of to  break.   I  felt  if he killed me well and good, and  if  I  broke  him I had done something to pass the  time.   I conquered, but yet I was the same.

     One morning in hay harvest when I was  trying  to  die by working, I started east of home to  the  hay field long before the dew was off so we  could  work.   I  frequently carried a fork  across  both  shoulders  with  a hand on either  end,  and  this  morning my fork seemed so heavy.  As I neared  the  field  the sun began to peep over the timber  that  bordered the creek and grew brighter and  brighter  until I stopped to gaze at its unusual beauty.  As  I  stood a little bird to my left sent  forth  its  clear notes from a wild cherry sprout.  Its  tones  were in accord with the brightness of the sun, and  my  fork grew light as though a great  burden  had  fallen from each end.  Something seemed to ask why I felt so  gay,  and I at once felt as all things looked.   I  have  watched  the sun rise many times  since  but  have  not  yet seen that beauty  again.   I  often  listen  to  the little birds sing, but  none  have  sung like that one.

     I  now  had a new burden, what did  all  this  mean?  My next search for relief was baptism,  but  I  pondered it long.  I found so much to  make  me  unfit for such a sacred act, until at last I  felt  I was ruined anyhow, and if there was no relief in  it,  I  was  no worse off.  But when  I  began  to  search  for a church home I found there were  some  things  I  wanted.   I  visited  our  neighborhood  churches with a different motive now.  One by one,  I  turned them down and gave up.  I could  live  a  better  life than any member in any one  of  them.   But  this fig leaf apron did not wear long.  So  I  began  again and settled on one, but the  night  I had  gone to unite the preacher said one  thing  I could  never  believe so I went  away  bewildered.  After  considering  his expression, I  decided  he didn't believe it either, so I went again to  hear  the same and decide if he did believe it.

     The  Primitive Baptists seemed to conform  to  my  belief, but they were not very popular in  our  country, and they were about all gone anyhow,  and  folks  said as soon as the next preacher  died  it  would  be the last.  But I concluded I would  just  die with them, and if I made a mistake it wouldn't  be  for  long anyway.  So in October 1926,  I  was  ready to put my case in their hands, but they  did  not  meet.   I believe from  that  until  November  meeting  was the longest month I ever  saw.   When  the day came I was among the first at the  meeting  house  but  told no one my intentions.  I  do  not  know the text or any songs they sang.  Only a  few  were  there  and  Elder George  Edwards  was  much  discouraged.  For six years he had been coming and  no one had united with the church.  I do  remember  he  almost forgot to open the door of the  church,  but  finally  said, "Well, I guess we  had  better give an invitation, somebody might want to  join."   I then went forward and was received just on  this  testimony,  "I'm  leaning on the  arm  of  Jesus."   Perhaps  I might not say that alone, for  I  found  myself unable to control my emotions.  A song  was  sung  and I was given the hand of  fellowship.   I  had  seen this done before, but did not know  what  it  meant.  I did not know one person  could  have  the love for another that I found they had for  me  and  I  for them.  That night I  slept  sound  all  night,  the first time for eighteen months.   Next  day I was to be baptized and little thought what I  was  to experience there.  When I was lifted  from  the water what joy I felt.  At once a song my mother so often sang came  to my mind, the chorus of which is  

           "Peace, peace, wonderful peace

        Coming down from the Father above,

        Sweep over my soul forever I pray,

         In fathomless billows of love."

 

     I at once knew what the poet who penned these  lines had felt.  I was given assurance there is  a  Heaven and that I will be there.  As Elder Edwards  and  I changed our clothes, I told him  there  was  one thing yet to make this peace complete and that  was  to  tell this sweet story.  If I ever  had  a  call  to the ministry it was there, for I  believe  only for modesty sake I should have shouted,  sung  and preached on the bank of the same little stream I saw the sun rise above.

     Within  a  month I was trying to  talk  in  a prayer  meeting,  and from then until now  I  have  taken  advantage of every opportunity to speak  of  this  great love.  At the close of each attempt  I  experience that calmness and before each  baptism,  I  carry  a  burden  similar  to  my  own  and   a  peacefulness at the close.  Brethren, these are my  evidences that this is of the Lord.  Two years from the day I was baptized, I  was  married  to  Miss Adah V. Collins of  Hazel  Creek  Church,  Adair  County,  Missouri,  and  moved  my  membership  from  Cedar  Creek,  Callaway  County,  Missouri,  to here.  The Lord only  permitted  our  home on this earth to last sixteen months, and the  cold  icy  hand  of death  claimed  her.   Here  I  learned  again the lesson of the goodness of  God. He  makes  no mistakes.  Some of His  lessons  are  hard,  but they are remembered.  I  had  conducted  several  funerals,  but I did not know  how.   But  later when I stood to console a young husband  and  six  children who had given up a  young  beautiful  mother,  I  felt to know why the Lord had  put  me  through the fiery furnace.

     Again,  the Lord had blessed me with  a  help mate,  Miss  Viola  Capps,  also  of  Hazel  Creek  Church, and our home has been blessed with a  baby  girl.   My companions have both loved the cause  I  try to serve and have been a great comfort in  the  trials that are mine.  I was ordained to the  full  work of the ministry, August 25, 1931, and here  I  learned the meaning of "laying on of hands."  From  that time on I have tried to give my full time  to  the care of churches.  At present, I have the care  of four and I feel to love them as a parent does a  child.   They are my care, my thought.   In  these  hard  times they have done well by me, caring  for  me as a preacher, and how there must be more ahead of me.   Surely  I have learned that  He  will  never  leave  nor  forsake  me, yet I  have  doubted  Him  enough to send my soul to hell.  Sometimes, I want  to  pray  "Lord make it my way and  I  will  never  doubt again," but I know I will, and I know my way  is  not  His way, so I try to pray  "Thy  will  be  done"  possibly the hardest prayer we  ever  pray.   To  those who would say, "If this is the  way  the  Lord  leads a poor sinner, I am not being  led"  I  would say these mile posts along the way were  not  known  as  I  met them.  I have  looked  back  and  learned  what they were.  The Bible the rich  aunt  gave  me  has been my most treasured gift,  and  I  have  carried it all the while.  It  has  traveled  many miles with me, on its pages I have seen  many beautiful promises and precious doctrines.   Also,  I have gazed upon its pages when they were as blank  as its covers.  Nine years after its presentation,  I  stood with it to deliver the funeral  discourse  of  this  same  aunt,  and she  and  I  have  wept  together  over  its blessed teaching.  From  it  I  have  preached funerals from the four months  bate  to those nearing a century.

     In  our  home  we have  prayer  for  we  have something to ask God for and something to ask  him  for.      Dear  reader, I have written  this  scattered  account of what I feel is the Lord's dealings with  me  in  the hope it may encourage  some  poor  one  along  the  way.  Should I write the  many  little  experiences  that  have taught me big  lessons  it  would  make a good pamphlet, so I bring this to  a  close,  hoping  to see that day when  the  Sun  of  Righteousness shall shine into my clouded soul and  the  clear notes of the Angels shall fill my  soul  with  peace  and I shall drop this great  load  of  mortality  and put on immortality, be lifted  from  the grave and find that it is Heaven.