By the time he was eleven, Johnny Cash had started to sort things out for himself concerning spiritual matters. “I knew there was two distinct ways to go in life,” he wrote in his first autobiography. “The people who had their hearts right—I recognized them as being different from the ones who were playing checkers over at the service station during the church service.”
He sought God’s presence through prayer and music. Songs like “I’ll Fly Away” transported him to another place. “To me, songs were the telephone to heaven, and I tied up the line quite a bit,” Cash reflected.
Johnny attended a revival meeting in Dyess shortly after his twelfth birthday on February 26, 1944. When it came time for the altar call, the choir started singing the hymn “Just as I Am.” In the front row was Cash’s older brother Jack, who he idolized, with his eyes closed as he sang along with the choir.
Up till then, Johnny hadn’t been particularly moved or affected by anything he’d heard that night; in fact, when the song started, he was thinking of cutting out and going home. But all of a sudden he felt his soul touched by the music, the words, and the inevitable choice facing every child of God going back to Adam and Eve: to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or to reject Him. It was an easy decision. Cash walked to the altar and knelt with the other converts.
I left feeling awfully good that night,” he later recalled, “feeling joy and relief at having made my decision.” He was formally baptized shortly thereafter.
Faith is a wonderful and powerful thing, and young Cash reveled in the peace and contentment it brought him. But he would soon find out that it doesn’t automatically inoculate us from pain, misery, temptation, doubt, pride, and all the other frailties that are our birthright as mere human beings.
1. If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9–10 NKJV)
Each of us must make a personal choice to believe in and follow Jesus Christ or to reject Him. Have you made that decision? If so, when?
2. How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! (Psalm 119:9–10 NKJV)
What is the key to maintaining a straight path in your spiritual walk?
3. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV)
Johnny Cash would spend much of his later life straying away from the Lord, perhaps from lack of a good example or role model. Is there a young person that you can come alongside to encourage spiritually today?
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