Albert Drake

"Brother, Brother" 
Where did the days of my pilgrimage begin? Well if you are thinking of my days on earth it was in August of 1947. But I think my pilgrimage really began on September 15th, 1974 for it was on that date I began walking through this wilderness with a definite place as a goal at the end of that journey. I began walking with God that day, God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ my LORD, and God the Holy Spirit who lives within me and is the surety of my salvation. Now I do not mean to say He never walked with me, it was I who began walking with Him for He was always there. Most of us, believers or not, know this in our heads but it is in looking back over my life that I see His hand working in my life right along. I remember for instance my folks sending us kids off to the local church for Sunday School and Church services. Remembering back on that Church I am sure it was not a Bible believing church, for never once do I remember the Gospel being presented. But nevertheless just the fact of being in a "church" brought such overwhelming guilt on my young soul I would come home and go to the bedroom and read the Bible. I'd always start at Genesis and tried to read straight through. I never got very far, I don't think I ever made it all the way through it let alone the whole Bible. Maybe that is why to this day Genesis is one of my favorite Books. Once I got old enough to not go to church I quit, I couldn't detach myself and allow church to become a "club" for the conviction and guilt was to strong. So other than a brief time I joined a church to get married I wouldn't go again. 

There are other instances of God showing His patient hand on my life but I was just to stupid and blind to see. After I got out of the service, I had 4 years to learn all the bad language imaginable, I had a job delivering parts. One day I was delivering auto parts to a J.C. Penny Auto department. As I was unloading the parts the man at the counter leaned over and said in stern but quiet, strong tones "How is your soul today?" You see I was "talking" I was not angry, bitter or upset about anything, just talking and the filth of my soul just flowed with it. 

When that Godly man said "How is your soul today?" I am sure I must have fallen back some for the impact was overwhelming (John 18:6). I have never forgotten that phrase to this day. This happened in the summer of 1971 I believe. I was haunted by that until Sept. 1974 when I was fired from my job. I was the third shift foremen at Dexter Lock for a short time in 1974, and that year if you will remember was the year of the great housing crunch. All of the third shift and half of the second was let go in one night. The second shift foreman in my department was a genuine believer by the name of Leon Kennedy. He would share with me as much as he could of the Word as I was telling him of a book I was reading at the time called the "Chariots of the Gods". A truly blasphemous book which took, among other things, that wonderful book of Ezekiel and showed how it proved there was life on other planets "because even the Bible tells us so". I now know it does not, but then I would believe all such nonsense. Well one day shortly thereafter I said to my wife, "We need to go back to church." Now understand I had, within myself, no spiritual reason for saying that, it was just "the right thing to do" no more no less. But God. One of my favorite passages of Sacred Scripture, But God. He was always there not giving up on me. It is interesting to look back and see how my Heavenly Father worked this out. My wife and I mentioned to our next door neighbors we might be looking into going to a church in the area and they asked us if we knew of the little country church around the corner. 

It's amazing how blind we can be when we want to be isn't it? We lived there 3 or 4 years and didn't know that building was even there. Well it was a weekday but we thought we would drive over "just to see what time the services were". We were so ignorant we didn't even know that! We pulled in the drive and didn't have time to get out when the pastor (who normally wasn't there on this day) followed us right in. We chatted a bit and I said to Bessie this must be the place. That first Sunday morning I felt so awkward and out of place, it was the first time I'd ever been in a church where any one let alone everyone carried the Bible. Incidentally they were all the King James Version. We sat in the back of that little country church not to be conspicuous, and for the record I am not sure I would have gone back the second Sunday, I was like a fish out of water. 

All the normal "church" things were done and the preacher began to speak. The amazing thing is I did not hear a word he said (I Corinthians 2:14) and I cannot tell you to this day what it is he spoke of. But when we stood to sing a song (the hymn "Just As I Am") that I had never heard before something happened to me. I began to shake and quake uncontrollably and I found myself moving out into the isle. I am not sure it was me or someone/thing drawing me out there. My wife held my arm, not in a restraining way mind you. She was as befuddled as I, and asked where I was going. I said "I don't know to the front I guess". When I did get to the front the pastor put his hand on my shoulder and asked "Why have you come today brother?" I replied in kind of a choked response "I don't know to hear the word of God I guess." He then asked do you want to be saved?" To this I shrugged my shoulders and said "I don't know what's that?" Somewhere during this time my wife met me in the front and together the pastor asked us if we'd like to meet with a deacon and himself and they would explain. I said sure and we went downstairs. 

They spent a lot of time telling us of what Christ Jesus the LORD did for us on the cross and that now we can be free from the penalty of our own sin and can, if we be born again (John 3:3) and receive Him into our hearts, be a real child of God (John 1:12). And that this was done very simply by placing our faith and trust in Him and "Confessing Him" as Lord with our mouths and believing Him to be raised from the dead by God the Father (Romans 10:9-10). 

They then asked us if we'd like to do this and it was such a strange thing because it was as natural to say yes as it would be for a drunken man to say yes to a free drink (Ephesians 5:18). We confessed our sin to Him that knoweth our frame and asked Him to cleanse us. And He did. I wish I could say I've stayed clean but like the priest who must wash at the laver before he could minister in the sanctuary, I too have had to stop and wash, for I have picked up defilement as I have walked through this wilderness of sin, on my way, my pilgrimage, to the celestial city. There to live with Him that loved me so much that He gave His own Son that I might live and be free (John 3:16; Galatians 2:20). But praise Him who liveth that our laver, prayer, never gets dirty and never needs to be refilled we can just keep coming and keep getting clean. 

The prayer I find myself praying more frequently as I get more homesick for heaven is in part, "Come quickly LORD Jesus and redeem thy people, thy bride, before we are all turned aside and gone our own way." Dr. David Otis Fuller once told me "Al, the people in the organized church don't believe in a heaven or hell any more, they couldn't because if they did they couldn't live the way they do". And my favorite passage of Scripture is more and more becoming the 21st chapter of the Revelation of our lovely LORD, SAVIOUR, AND GOD, CHRIST JESUS MY LORD.