The Red Back Hymnal

‘Summer Memories’

(“There’s A Guiding Hand”)
Bill Lloyd

SUMMER TIME –– Summer is my FAVORITE season of the year!  Period!  Winter is just “Winter,” and Autumn is too drab.  Spring rarely visits us now, for it seems we go directly from Winter to Summer.  So, I’ll gladly take Summer days, without question.

There’s just something rather thrilling about Summer time.  I don’t go to the beach or to the pool, but it’s just nice to sit outdoors and see the beautiful “greenery” and bright Sun.  Sitting outdoors takes me back in time to my youth.   
What things did I do as a kid on a beautiful Summer day?  Well, if you must know, I stayed in the house to draw, or I’d put puzzles together.  That is, until Mom would order me outside to “get some sunshine.”  But I think she had another motive in addition to the “sunshine.”
Yet, when I did go play outdoors, I’d usually get into trouble.  Such was the time I sat alone in the homemade sandbox.   I came up with a neat idea –– or so I thought.  With the proverbial “light bulb” still turned on over my head, I took the sand scoop and completely FILLED the inside of my shirt.  I was proud of the new person I “became,” so I went inside to Mom’s kitchen to say, “Hey Mom, look at me.  I’m fat!”
Mom turned and gasped.  The next thing I saw and heard was her pointing to the outside kitchen door and saying, “William Orban Lloyd, you march yourself right back outside and empty all that sand out of your shirt, and don’t you dare ever do that again!!!”  In case you’re wondering, I never did that again. 
The downside of “my new look” that day was I actually turned out looking much the same 60-some years later.  I can tell you for a fact, I do NOT need sand to fill my shirt today!
Leaving Dad’s homemade concrete block sandbox behind, I then set out for other playful adventures in our backyard.  For one, I had a directional water gun that could be turned to spray water anywhere from my left or to my right.  And my younger sisters, Janice and Sheryl, seemed to like it.  NOT!
With these sisters standing next to me, I would point the water gun in the direction of a bird straight ahead, for example.  I would ask my sisters, “Do you think I can shoot water on that bird?”  They would giggle and say, “Yeah!”  I would then pull the trigger of the water gun –– and soak my sisters from the spray.  They still remember those “fun days.”
In the Spring of 1957, my brother Don built and operated a miniature golf course two miles from our house.  I was there every day the Summers of 1957 and 1958.  I played miniature golf all the time, so in the two years he operated the golf course, I was able to get holes-in-one on all 18 holes.  I loved being there.  But more importantly, I loved being near my big brother.  I wish I could see Don more often today!  He’s a model Christian, and I’m proud of him yet today.
But, I also had fun out of town those Summers long ago.  Our family made annual trips to visit our Grandmothers in Southern Illinois, as well as attending a full week of our denomination’s Camp Meeting. 
Camp Meeting memories flood my mind as I recall Dad pulling an enclosed rented trailer behind his car to our state church Campground in Southern Illinois.  We took nearly everything with us, “just in case…”  And I believe Mom would have said the kitchen sink was needed, too!
At that beautiful Benton Campground, our family stayed a full week in a hot, tiny block dormitory room.  We’d always take a large fan to stir the hot air, for it was a necessity. 
Another “necessity” was the outdoor stove we had in the dormitory room.  How well I remember Mom frying up delicious hamburgers, slicing onions and cheese for us all at Midnight.  Mom’s hamburger sandwiches were always so delicious, but those she fried up after Camp Meeting services always seemed to be the best.
Most everyone attending Camp Meeting dressed up in those days, even in the sweltering heat.  It was plenty warm when everyone worshiped in our large open-air Tabernacle, but I heard few complaints.  The only really “bad old night” of Camp Meeting took place on Sunday night, June 22, 1969.  A tornado ripped through that small town, killing one person, yet everyone in the open-air Tabernacle was completely safe.  Praise God!
Within a couple of weeks after the Camp Meeting, the state Youth Camp began.  The part I enjoyed the most in attending Youth Camp was working in the concession stand.  In those mid-teenage years, I had the distinct privilege of being with other young people my age, but also being a camp worker.  I could go to town in my free time.  I liked that!
Among the many memories I had of working the concession stand was meeting new friends, seeing old friends –– AND cooling off by crushing ice for snow cones.  Then too, I always enjoyed selling glass bottles of soda from the water refrigerated units.  The water was SO cold, it hurt to reach inside.  Yet, it felt SO good, too.
To round out the Summers, our family always went to family reunions in Southern Illinois.  My Dad’s reunions were held at a park on Memorial Day, while Mom’s family reunions were held at her old farm place on Labor Day.
As at all such gatherings, there was always an abundance of FOOD.  Along with the variety of homemade dishes and farm-raised foods, Mom and my aunts would also take their favorite desserts. 
Without fail, you would always hear of someone tasting a new dessert and saying, “I’ve GOT to have this recipe!”   The person who prepared the dessert was usually happy to supply that person with the recipe. 
As a Christian, we remember the joy that filled our heart when we were saved.  There was a great excitement about this new way that made usWANT to know more about Him.  We attended every church service without fail, and we couldn’t do enough for the Lord and the Church.
When we began our journey with the Lord, there was an intense study of The Word.  We had that great desire to know more of Him.  We learned that as we walked with Him daily and remained faithful to Him, our life as a Christian began to get “sweeter and sweeter as the days go by.”  We were SO happy, we had to share Christ with others.
Just as those that prepare new dishes or desserts for family reunions are thrilled to see others partake and enjoy, so it was that the Psalmist took note of the things of God:  “O taste and see that the Lord is good:  blessed is the man that trusteth in Him” (Psalm 34:8).
Many Christians, however, have since lost the joy they once knew.  Many are no longer steadfast in their faith.  Friends may notice their fickle attitude toward spiritual matters, while neighbors may observe lackadaisical ways about them.
Some food recipes may call for variation in ingredients or in measure, but that depends on each individual cook.  Yet, when it comes to the Christian life and God’s Word, there are no acceptable changes or variations.  God’s recipe for Christian living has never changed.  He calls for exactness.  He calls for Holy living.
“But as He which hath called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;   Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15, 16). ~   “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Many in the Church today may say, “We live in different times.”  But we’re to live holy ALL the time.  After all, Jesus has never changed, and He never will.   “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
Seasons change from Autumn to Winter to Spring to Summer, but the Child of God is to live a life after Christ, in “whom is no variableness.” 
Many years ago, Milton A. Dodson wrote a song found in the “Red Back” Church Hymnal, and it tells of God’s “Guiding Hand” leading His children. 
The first verse of “THERE’S A GUIDING HAND” tells:  “As I travel on my journey t’ward the setting of the Sun, whether sunshine or in shadows, night or day;  Jesus stays so close beside me, helps me thru the race I run, There’s a hand that’s safely guiding all the way.”
“There’s a hand that’s always guiding, over life’s rough weary way.  By this hand I’m safely hiding, from the tempter day by day;  When the storms around are beating, it will make the Sun to shine, O what joy it is in meeting, with the hand of love divine.”
Just as God kept His hand on us all in the open-air Tabernacle during the Summer tornado of 1969, His steady hand can still guide and protect us all today. 
Now if only we Christians will remain steady and faithful to Him!  If so, we just might hear someone say, “I’ve GOT to know the Christ you live and share!”
“Happy Summer!”

–– Bill
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