By WALTER ALBRITTON
Way back in the ‘50s, the Methodists often sent young preachers, who were still college or seminary students, out in the woods to serve small country churches. These “student” appointments were called “circuits;” a circuit might include three to five small churches.
That’s how I got started. When I was a junior at Auburn University, the Bishop appointed me to the LaPlace Circuit which included four churches in Macon County and one in Montgomery County. We lived in a little community known as Milstead. One of my churches was on Highway 80 in Shorter. Years later, I would understand the wisdom behind giving student pastors several churches. Spreading our ignorance over several churches would reduce the negative impact we might inflict on one church. And to honest, our ignorance about the work of a pastor was indeed plentiful.
Much more important was the realization later that the wonderful people in those country churches taught me songs that I have loved all my life, songs that I would never have heard in the big city churches. While I learned to love all kinds of music, high church and low church songs, some of the songs I sang in Macon County are still alive in my memory bank. The words and melodies still come to mind and feed my soul. Lately I find myself singing this one, written by George O. Webster:
I need Jesus, my need I now confess;
No friend like Him in times of deep distress;
I need Jesus, the need I gladly own;
Though some may bear their load alone,
Yet, I need Jesus.
I need Jesus, I need Jesus,
I need Jesus every day;
Need Him in the sunshine hour,
Need Him when the storm-clouds lower;
Every day along my way,
Yes, I need Jesus.
I love melodious songs that speak truth. I do need Jesus. I need him every day, every hour, every minute. I need him because I am powerless without him. Without his power within me I can do nothing of eternal value.
I need Jesus when despair comes calling. Despair for me might be better labeled despondency or cheerlessness or inertia. Those words describe the feeling that sometimes, like a “storm-cloud,” tries to lower its way into my mind. It happens in rare moments when my loneliness sets the self-pity trap for me. When the battery that runs my “serving the Lord” motivation needs re-charging. That’s when I need to hear Jesus say, “You don’t need to go there, Walter. Stay with me; re-focus on the ways I can help you make a difference in the lives of others.” And that’s when Jesus helps me hang out my “No Vacancy” sign and slam the door in the face of despair and his friends.
I need Jesus when I become anxious about the future and begin wringing my hands about things that may or may not happen in the final chapter of my earthly life. When I turn to Jesus, he says, “Walter, that’s a burden you don’t need to carry. Remember, you were bought with a price, my own blood, so you belong to me. I am in charge. I have provided you with everything you have needed so far and I will continue to take care of you. Your future is in my strong hands. Whatever you need, I will provide, so be at peace and trust me. Let not your heart be troubled!” That’s when his peace calms my soul and chases fear away.
Yes, I need Jesus, every day, along my way, until he finally welcomes me Home.