Learning life's lessons in unexpected places

Published 5:34 am Monday, July 14, 2003

By By Ed Williams
Remember the revivals they used to have around these parts back when we were growing up?
I sure do. Back in those days, most churches had at least one revival each summer, usually in either July or August. We're not talking just one night revivals, either – some of these revivals ran for at least three or four nights, and sometimes even longer.
The preachers who did these revivals were typically from some of the other churches in the area. Doing these services gave them a chance to preach at other locations, and it also gave them the chance to experience new congregations. Sometimes churches would be so impressed with a revival preacher that they'd ultimately ask him to become their pastor. I think, for the preachers, revivals were a great thing.
For those of us in the congregation, revivals were a mixed blessing. First, they had them for at least three or four consecutive nights, and you had to attend each night. That meant three or more consecutive nights of church services that lasted two to three hours each night. No matter how you look at it, that's an awful lot, even for the most devout among us.
Compound that with the fact that it was summer, typically 80 plus degrees outside, and you were miserable.
And don't even ask me about the mosquitoes and gnats. With all the perfume and aftershave that we had wafting around in the church, we might as well have put up signs for them and announced that open season had been declared. I came home with so many red splotches sometimes that I resembled a human pimple.
The most memorable revival for me was one I attended back around '65. It was held at the Juliette Methodist Church, and the preacher was a guy out of Griffin named the Reverend Sam Krate, or something like that. I remember sitting next to Tommy Cochran, and Tommy called him, "the Reverend Sour Kraut." I thought that was pretty funny, so that's how I remember him to this day.
The Reverend Kraut was a good preacher, and he could talk a blue streak. The only problem was, the more crowd reaction he got, the longer he talked. On this particular night he'd gone for a good two hours, and still hadn't finished. I was gettin' pretty frustrated.
Fortunately, I wasn't the only one. Ed Jr. was seated to my right, and my mom was sittin' just right of him. He'd grimaced the entire night, and I could tell that he was getting restless.
The Reverend Kraut started talkin' about Genesis, and this was the final straw for Ed Jr. He leaned over and whispered, "Noah could've loaded up his ark in the time Reverend Kraut has taken tonight. Boy, get puny for me, quick."
I wasn't real sure what he was talking about. "Puny?" I asked.
I figured he was my dad, so I didn't question him. I proceeded to cough, then I faked a sneeze that was pretty realistic. After that, Ed Jr. leaned over and whispered something to my mom. Then, he looked over at me and muttered,
With that, we all got up and left. On his way out, Ed Jr. informed the usher that, "…the boy is catchin' cold, I gotta take him home and doctor on him."
With that, we all escaped the Reverend Kraut, the mosquitoes, and that damp, hot air.
We all rushed home and took cold baths. Ed Jr. finished his right after I did, and walked in the kitchen. I was already there, looking for a snack. Ed Jr. walked right up to me, and said something that was pretty profound,
I asked, "Dad, how do you get it back in balance?"
I came away from that understanding what Ed Jr. meant. We're all meant to have some balance in our lives, and you can get too much of anything, even real good things.
Maybe that's why I still think about those old revivals now – the lessons learned there were powerful, although you really paid a price for having learned them.

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