When young, I was really confused about religion. Who was Jesus? One Sunday morning, when I was about four years old, our family arrived at the Methodist Church in Olustee, Oklahoma. See red dot on map of Oklahoma. As we arrived, I ran upstairs to the Sunday School Room and didn’t find Jesus. As I got back to the car, I told my parents that Jesus wasn’t there yet. When the church bell started to ring, I said “it’s OK they are dinging for her now.”
Jesus taught my Sunday School for several years. Jesus played the pump organ for us to sing “Jesus Loves Me’ among other songs. One Sunday Jesus asked me what I would like to sing. I told her that I would like to sing “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”. I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t let us. My sister Emmalu and her friends sang it often.
It wasn’t until later that I found that Jesus wasn’t my Sunday School teacher after all, and that he needed money.
One of my earliest memories was in about 1937 (I was 6). It was during the middle of the depression. Brother Dick was in college and money was short. Every time my younger sister Carolyn and I wanted anything, the response was that we couldn’t have it because we had a son in college. One Sunday morning, Carolyn and I were sent to Sunday School, each with a nickel to give to Jesus. We decided to save the money for some candy that we bought at Ms. Cann’s store on the way home from church. Evidently, we had chocolate on us when we arrived home and Mother gave us both a whipping for not giving the money to Jesus. Through my tears, I asked “Why does Jesus need all of that money? Does Jesus have a son in college?”
It didn’t get any better soon. Mother would give me a hard pinch when I wiggled and squirmed during the service. Sermons went on and on.
The family went to Church twice on Sunday and on Wednesday night.
So far in my life, Jesus didn’t get of to a good start. Also, who was “God”? I didn’t understand him either.
Mother had a direct line to God. A profound example was one day on the trip from Altus (population 3,500) to Olustee, our home (population 570). In the back seat, I had my head out the window. Mother said “Joe Harvey, get your head back in this car”. I did. In a few minutes my head was outside again. Mother said “Joe Harvey, get your head back in this car”. I did. The third time I put my head back out, a cattle truck passed. A cow shat and it landed smack in my face. Mother stopped the car to laugh. I could image God also laughing. Whose side were they on? God had another strike against him.
I got, and still get, God and Jesus confused. But I’m not sure when God – or Jesus – redeemed himself in my eyes.
At college, I rebelled over too much religion. I refused to go to Church on Sunday and Wednesday nights. I went on Sunday morning so that I could sing in the choir.