17 February 2018

Some Party in Heaven part 1

Will You Go?

“If the Lord Jesus were to come right now, I wonder how many from this room would rise to meet Him?” The voice of Hedley Murphy challenged the audience in a meeting in Moira, Co. Down. The atmosphere was solemn. Silent and still.

Young Phyllis Blakely glanced from side to side. She was almost seventeen years old. Her mother had persuaded her to go to the meeting, with her sister Gloria.
“It would please your uncle Eddie,” she had coaxed.
As she observed those seated around her Phyllis came to the conclusion that most of them would ‘rise to meet’ Jesus if He were to come that moment. She knew them. Fine, Christian, “meeting-going” types. They were all people of high moral standards and well spoken of in the countryside.
Yes. They would all rise.

Then there was Gloria, sitting beside her. Gloria was a good girl. A clean living, decent sort of person, perhaps a Christian, so she would probably go too. That just left her. With close self-scrutiny the arrow of conviction embedded itself deep into her heart. If the Lord Jesus were to come tonight, she wouldn’t rise to meet Him.
It was as simple as that.
She wasn’t ready.
She wasn’t saved.
And she knew that perfectly well.

That knowledge made her determined. This was going to be the night. Phyllis was going to settle the matter, once and for all. And it was going to be tonight. Sitting there she gradually lost all sense of her surroundings. She drifted into reverie. Thoughts flooded back into her troubled mind. Phyllis remembered the messages she had heard as a little child in Kilmore Gospel Hall. That, in turn, made her think of the Mc Canns. How faithful they had been, collecting her every Sunday to take her to Sunday school. Genuine Christians, the Mc Canns. They would go when Jesus came. There was no doubt about that.

Still the verses, choruses and snippets of Bible stories continued to zip out of her memory bank and bombard her whirling brain. Reminiscence returned rapidly to reality when the preacher’s voice announced the final hymn,
“Let’s sing in closing, ‘When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound.’”
The congregation creaked stiffly into standing mode and began to sing lustily. They seemed to sing with particular conviction the last line of each verse, repeated in the chorus, “When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.”
Phyllis didn’t sing. She just prayed, inwardly, earnestly. She was broken. Tears trickled down her cheeks.
“Lord, please don’t come yet,” she pleaded. “These people all believe they are going to be ‘there.’ I want to be ‘there’ too. O Lord, please don’t come until I get saved!”

As the congregation filed out, Phyllis held back. She wanted to speak to the preacher. She needed help. Tonight was the night. This was it.

Mr Hedley Murphy spoke to her gently. He read verses from the Bible. Many of them she recognised from having committed them to memory in Kilmore Gospel Hall Sunday School.
Then she prayed. It was a sincere prayer from the heart.
“Lord Jesus,” she began, “I know I am a sinner. I need You to save and change me. I believe that You died on the cross to take away my sins. As I come to You now, please forgive my sin and make me Your own.”
With that, the burden of sin disappeared. There came a realisation that she was saved. It had been so simple to trust in Jesus. A tremendous sense of peace enfolded her. Phyllis just wished she could relive the end of the meeting so that she could sing with God-fearing gusto, along with all the others, “When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there!”

As she left the room, Uncle Eddie was waiting. He hadn’t gone home. Stepping towards her and interpreting her smile as a happy harbinger, he said, “Well, Phyllis…?” It was half a statement but more a question. Phyllis was radiant and confident by now.
“I got saved tonight, Uncle Eddie,” she blurted out.
“Oh that’s great!” Eddie Weir made no attempt to conceal his delight. “That’s an answer to prayer. I have been praying that one of you Blakelys would soon get saved.”
Phyllis was one of the Blakelys. There were seven of them. Besides Gloria who had come with her there were Heather, Alva, Jackson, Estlin and Linden. Most of these others had also been asked to come, but they ‘all with one consent began to make excuse.’
“I have to fix my car,” claimed one.
“I have to see my girl-friend,” said another.
“I’ve arranged to meet one of my mates in Lurgan at half-seven,” was a third excuse. And so it went on. But Phyllis and Gloria had gone. Now Phyllis was saved.

When her mother heard of the night’s big event, she too rejoiced. Her pleasure was less exuberant, more self-controlled, than that of Uncle Eddie, but genuine, nonetheless.
“You have made the right decision, Phyllis,” she assured her daughter. “May God bless you.”
By the time she arrived home from the meeting her dad knew as well. He stopped his radiant daughter as they met in the kitchen doorway.
“You will never regret the decision you made tonight, Phyllis,” were his simple words of encouragement.

However, next morning at breakfast Phyllis began to think her mother had changed her mind. She began to probe, to question.
“Are you sure, Phyllis, that it wasn’t just your emotions that overcame you last night?” she enquired.
Mothers know their daughters through and through. Ethel Blakely was no exception. She knew her Phyllis was an emotional girl, easily touched. Phyllis would be liable to react spontaneously in a highly charged atmosphere.
“No, mother. This is no emotional thing. This is the real thing. I got saved last night. I got Jesus in my heart last night.”
Mother was convinced. When she heard the new convert’s calm declaration in the cold clear light of a new day, she was satisfied.

Her daughter would need some advice now, she knew.
“You will find, Phyllis,” she began softly, “that the things that once interested you won’t interest you as much anymore. And you will probably find, too, that your old friends won’t want you so much either. But don’t let that worry you. You have found the Saviour, and that is the most important thing in life. You will soon find new friends, with the same desires as yourself.”
With that sensible counsel ringing in her ears, Phyllis set off for work.

When she arrived home in the evening Phyllis found that the ‘New Christian’s Advice Bureau’ was ready to begin another session. With mother as Adviser-In-Chief. The local Christian community was abuzz with the news. Family, friends and relations had been on the phone to Mrs. Blakely, offering advice,
“Tell her to seek out Christian friends,” they said.
“Tell her to read her Bible every day,” they said.
“Make sure she doesn’t neglect her prayer times,” they said.
Uncle Eddie’s idea summarised them all.
“Eric Spence runs a prayer meeting and Bible study in his home in Hillsborough every Wednesday evening. It would great if she could start going there,” he suggested.
When Ethel Blakely told Phyllis of all those who had been ringing she was pleased. She hadn’t really been aware that so many people could be so genuinely concerned about her.

Phyllis didn’t hesitate. Now that she was prepared to go to meet Jesus when He came, she could probably manage to make it to a prayer meeting in Hillsborough, she reckoned.
“Of course I’ll go, Mother!” was her immediate answer. “I’ll start next week!”
And she did.

Her brother Alva’s girlfriend, Marjorie, bought her a little book called ‘Sunrise to Sunset.’ It contained a selection of daily readings by Derick Bingham and Phyllis was really blessed by that book. So eager was she to learn more about her newly found faith that she read it not only from ‘sunrise to sunset’ but also half the night as well!

Gradually the babe-in-Christ began to show signs of growth. The desire for Scripture reading, prayer meetings and all things spiritual was increasing. Phyllis couldn’t understand it all herself. Before that hallowed night in Moira she used to think Christians were a crowd of stiff stooges, stuffed shirts and wet blankets. Having now become one, she realised that had all been nonsense. It was great!
Going to and from the Wednesday evening prayer meeting, and many other times besides, Phyllis listened to a tape someone had given her. It was of hymns, sung by Rev. William McCrea. As the little brown Mini, which her dad had bought her for her seventeenth birthday, sped on its way, it reverberated to the strains of, ‘Worthy is the Lamb,’ Will the Circle Be Unbroken?’ and other well known hymns. Often, Rev. McCrea had the accompaniment of Phyllis as she sang along, beating out time on the steering wheel!
Phyllis felt so close to the Saviour on those occasions that she used to commune with Him as she travelled along.
“Lord, I just feel You sitting there beside me,” she would say, in hushed tones. “I can’t see You I know, but I can feel You close to me. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You, Lord!”

Noel Davidson