Written By: Carter A. Worley, Jr.

Just The Touch of The Master's Hand

I'll never forget Jack Holcomb, who was my good friend as a boy of 15. Jack Holcomb was my father's song leader in a revival in Ft. Smith, AR. in 1950. I, like many young boys, had my share of problems with my father. Jack and I had many long talks. I guess this is why he decided to have a youth fellowship after each night's service. I did not know at the time the seeds that he sowed would some day save my life.

Bro. Jack liked country music, and I think that he probably started out singing country gospels. Anyway, he would get all the young people together after each service, and tell us stories along with songs. The story I remember most was the one about an auction. It seems they were selling off the possessions of one who had passed away. The auctioneer picked up an old and worn fiddle that looked as if it had seen its last days. The strings were loose, and the bow was fuzzy and worn. As the auctioneer drew the bow across the fiddle a sound like, maybe a scream and gritty teeth, came from it. "Now what am I bid for this fiddle, it still has life in it, and still has a lot of music left in it. Now what am I bid $5, $10, $50. Going once, going"----and from the back of the room came a voice of an old man, maybe in his mid 80's, said, "Just a minute. May I tune it up?" This was the father of the son who had owned the fiddle. The old man made it down the aisle in his old overalls and took the fiddle from the auctioneer and began to tune up the strings. He would pluck at each string until the sound he wanted came from each one. The room was silent as the the father drew it close to him and began to play. Music filled the room like a soft rain on a summer's day. He first played the Old Rugged Cross, and then Amazing Grace. He then turned to the auctioneer and handed him the fiddle without saying word.

Now the auctioneer turned back to the crowd with a tear in his voice. "Now, what am I bid for this beautiful new fiddle? $500, $1000, $50,000". At that moment, Jack would begin to sing ---The Touch Of His Hand On Mine

He had tears in his eyes, but we could understand what he was trying to get across to us. He would sing, and talk to us, then follow up with another story and song.

I had many of Jack's records stored back in a closet and did not realize at the time how much those services and records would mean to me until some thirty years later, long after I had forgotten about them.

Then one late spring day, while I was away working, my wife had taken my sons fishing at a strip pit in Arkansas, where we lived at the time. While on the way back home an accident occurred that caused the car to go into a black, water filled coal pit; where she drowned. My young sons, aged 6 & 13, where able to get out, and their lives were spared.

My wife Eldeva and I would have been married for 25 year in the fall of 1979 and in the blink of an eye she was taken from me. I could not understand why God would take a fine Christian Lady that not only confessed to being a Christian, but lived it. Why me? Why am I left with two young children? How was I going to raise them by myself? I was hurt, angry, mad at her and God for going off and leaving me all alone.

For two years I went through hell. Not only did my daughter and her husband, but my wife's family turned against me. There were law suits over who would have control of what little money the boys had. In one law suit they wanted all her pictures, household goods, everything we owned, even the right to the boys, who they accused of killing their mother. Not once, but several times. I did not know where to turn next. I sat at home and slept most of the time and was not looking after the boys the way I should. I even thought it might be better if we were not even part of this hateful, dark world anymore. I was depressed, and at my wits end, I could go on no further. The burden that I was carrying was too heavy for me handle anymore. Life did not seem worth the effort.

Then a strange thing happen. There was an auction taking place down the street. Both of the boys wanted to go to it, so I agreed. Shawn, my older son, found an old record player he wanted, and the auctioneer said it would play music. Then, little Matt, grabbing at my sleeve, said "Daddy we can play Mommy records on it". Well, needless to say, I bought that old record player for about $2 and took it home.

The boys got out our records and began playing some old 45's. Fifty's songs that Eldeva and I had bought when we first got married. While going through the stack of records, I picked up an album and on its cover was a photo and the words "Jack Holcomb" written on it. The next album was titled "It Took A..Miracle". A song that I always loved to hear Jack sing because when it got to the end of the song where its says, "It Took a Miracle of Love and Grace", he would never say the word grace instead he always went into singing "Amazing Grace". It brought back memories of when I was a boy that I had long ago forgotten.

I asked the boys if I could play the album? As I put the record on and was about to set the needle arm down, it slipped from my hand. Not a sound came out. Then, from out of nowhere, Jack began to sing---Ship Ahoy. As I continued to listen there came, ---When I get To The End Of The Way, ---Come Ye Disconsolate, ---It Took A Miracle, ---The Holy City, and all the songs on that album. I began crying, for no apparent reason. My heart was breaking. I was in a hopeless state of mind and in one of the deepest depressions of my life. So, I went to my room and laid down, crying like a baby. I said out loud God!, "I cannot go on like this, you have taken the one person in my life that's understood me, and that loved me. Why have you done this to me? Please help me! I can't go on!

I guess I must have fallen asleep because I remembered back to the time when I would go to the After Service Followships that Jack conducted. One story he told was of walking along the seashore following Jesus' footsteps, and looking back to only see one set of footprints in the sand. When I woke up the next morning there was a new me. The bitterness towards God was gone. The empty feeling was filled with a sense of good feeling; it was a new day, and I realized that God had been carrying me all the way through the hard times. There was peace in my soul.

Now this is not the end of the story, because I still did not know why God had seen fit to take my Wife, and left Me. Nor, why I had been left with two boys to raise, or how I was going to do it. Their mother had been the one that gave them Christian guidance.

It was later on that next day when little Matt, seven years old at the time, came to me carrying one of Jack's albums -"Dearest To My Heart". He liked the picture of Jack and his son and asked if I would play it for him. When I read the back of the album I found that Jack had died just three weeks after making the album, his last recorded testimony. I do believe that God knew when Jack recorded that album that it would be the one thing that would help guide me through my hard times, showing me what I had to do, and helping me understand the way.

I let Matt put the record on and start it, and the first poem, put to music, was ***CLAY***

I grabbed the record to see what else was on it. When I put it back I must have turned it over; for the next song played was ---One More Valley. --Jack then went on to another poem ---A Successful Dad and ---If You Should Go First. Needless to say, I was in tears and thanking God for showing me the way, and what was expected of me. Now, as I look back and remembering, it brings to mind of the verse that said, "and a little child shall show them the way". My children, with the guiding hand of God, through their desires, showed me the way that God wanted me to go.

I believe that God works in many mysterious ways, and he will carry you, if you take your burden to him and leave it there.

Yes, Bro. Jack Holcomb touched my life in many ways through the years and I thank God that he was there, back when as a young boy, and later as man, whose life had been turned upside down.

Sometimes we think we have it bad. But look around. You will see folks who have it a lot worse.

I'm asking everyone who reads this; whatever, your burden is, find the altar, no matter where or what it is, and unload it. Let Him carry the load, if it's too heavy for you.

God has our lives planned out from the beginning, and I do not know what his purpose was for mine. But, if Jack Holcomb had not been a dedicated Man of God, back years ago, and had not my wife saved his records, I shudder to think what might have happened in my life. And, like the last song of that album, I can truly say, ---He Touched Me

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."-Ps. 55:22.

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