Sweet Tea Moments of Heartfelt Hallelujahs

Revile Us Again and Again and Again

I lost count of how many times I accepted Jesus as my savior.

When I was a teenager, I knelt in front of our television when Billy Graham gave his salvation invitation. His words were so convicting, so full of truth, and so full of warning about what would happen if I refused to give my life to Christ that I was afraid I would spend eternity stuck in pluff mud on low tide with a million fiddler crabs pinching me. In the South, there is no such thing as being prayed up too much.

I’m sure Jesus smiled at my many attempts to make sure I would go to heaven when I died. But in case you’re wondering, Lord, you had me at the last verse of “I Surrender All,” page 162.

There are so many interpretations on how to get to heaven. Some Baptists say, “Once saved, always saved.” Others disagree. But I say, “Thank God, I’m not God.”

Snakes at The Tent Revival?

No Southern worship experience compares to a good old-fashioned tent revival preached by a good old-fashioned Southern preacher. It moves the heart. Moves souls to dig in their pockets and purses and give deep. Moves the big-chested wives of the gospel singers to turn their fancy rings around so the ushers can’t see the diamonds. I sang at a tent revival with a famous gospel group and when the offering plate was passed around … well, let’s just say I know of what I preach.

Late one evening, a revival regular approached the minister and said, “Preacher, the crowd was bigger last night. I bet it’s ’cause of all them snakes.”

“Snakes?” asked the pastor.

“Yes, snakes. Some folks who came last night said there were snakes all over the place.”

“It’s not the snakes,” said the preacher. “Don’t you know that is the devil trying to keep you and them away?”

After their conversation, I commented to the preacher, “Gracious! The lies some people tell to try to ruin this tent revival.”

“Oh, there are snakes everywhere,” the minister confessed. “Saw them myself under chairs and such. I suspect the vibration from the music is making them slither from the woods.”

I’ve heard of preachers handling snakes, but it never occurred to me that maybe snakes need saving too. If you believe the Bible (which I do), Satan was a snake. Maybe some in the crowd the night were his kin. Regardless, after that evening, my walk with the Lord improved. By that I mean I watched more closely where I walked during the tent revival.

Not long after the snake episode, Thomas and I were invited to sing at an outdoor revival in the foothills of rural Georgia. The minister made the Gospel Sing setting sound lovely, but this event was held in an asphalt parking lot between two tall buildings … in August. I wore a cute sundress and sat in a Masters golf tournament chair. Chocolate pudding on a white Easter dress would have blended in better.

God is Gonna Git You….

Another singing group performed too. They pulled up to the revival in a late-model, powder-blue bus that was the color of a packet of a certain artificial sweetener. One by one, they filed out of the bus—all wearing homemade outfits the same color as the bus. The family obeyed strict rules of their denomination, and some in that faith believe women should not cut their hair. So the younger women had shorter hair swept into updos; the older ladies had longer hair, which was piled higher. That last woman off the bus had a hairstyle that rivaled Marge Simpson. Seriously, she had to duck her head to get off of the bus.

I remember exactly what we sang that evening because it is one of only two songs Thomas can sing without messing up the words. After we sang “We Have This Moment,” I was asked to introduce the other gospel group led by Marge Simpson. “Please welcome our next group, who will share more about God’s amazing love, grace, and forgiveness,” I said in a sweet tone.

“Thank ya, Sister Herlong,” said the woman with the highest hairdo. “Friends, we gon sing, ‘God Is Gonna Git Cha If You Don’t Do Right.’”

As polished and professional as I thought Thomas and I were, this group ministered with a lot more heart, soul, and sweat than we did. (And believe me, I’d poured out pints.) The folks in attendance just loved them. Sometimes it’s not the performance that matters but the Person you are performing for.

It was a sweet-tea Southern revelation revival moment for me: God looks at a person’s heart. He doesn’t care about way-too-big hair, dresses that match buses, or cute sundresses worn by folks sitting in Masters golf tournament chairs. What matters is how we act before The Master.

Jane Jenkins Herlong is a multi-talented Southern belle who can make you laugh, sing, and even teach you a thing or two. She’s a Sirius XM Humorist and an international best-selling author and professional singer, she’s got the literary and vocal chops to keep you entertained!

Hey, grab a copy of her newest book in Cracker Barrel nationwide!

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