by Tom Wacaster
Some of you country and western fans might remember a popular song with the above title. “Back in the Saddle Again” was the signature song of American cowboy entertainer Gene Autry. It was co-written by Autry with Ray Whitley and first released in1939. The song was associated with Autry throughout his career and was used as the name of Autry's autobiography in 1976. The song struck a cord (no pun intended) with country and western fans, and has remained a popular musical hit reaching beyond the world of country and western music into pop and easy listening circles as well. There is only one stanza, followed by a chorus, and a repeat of the one stanza. Here are the words:
I'm back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again
Ridin' the range once more
Totin' my old .44
Where you sleep out every night
And the only law is right
Back in the saddle again
It has been a little over seven years since I left local work to engage in mission efforts around the world. I have truly enjoyed the work, and I must confess that in all my labors to date in the Lord’s kingdom, these seven years have been among the most rewarding. The receptivity of souls in Russia, India, Ethiopia, Nepal, and Mexico reminds us of a bygone era in America when men’s souls hungered and thirsted for the truth. This growth of the church numerically in India reminds me of something I have read in history books about the Lord’s church and experienced only briefly in the early years of my youth. In my seven campaigns to India we have baptized more than 2,000 souls, established more than four dozen new congregations, converted whole denominational churches, and helped in benevolent cases that have opened the doors into areas where the gospel was previously not allowed to go.
On November 1st I officially re-entered local work. Of course I was in Russia at the time, but my mind was turning toward what awaited me upon my arrival home on the 4th. Sunday morning the 7th I preached my first sermon as the pulpit minister for the Handley congregation. I will still be involved in two mission endeavors making one trip to Russia and one trip to India each year. I have, as Gene Autry was wont to say, climbed “back in the saddle again.” No, I have no intention of mounting a steed, but Mr. Autry has captured the sentiments of all those who, for one reason or another, have found themselves returning to something of which they are familiar, and in which they find great pleasure. To that extent I guess you could say, I’m “back in the saddle again.” What I love most about local work is the opportunity to preach – and to do so in one’s own language, without having to go through an interpreter. I am not so naïve as to think that we will get the kind of responses I have seen in India; but I also believe that if we plant enough seed, we will reap an abundant harvest for this is something the Lord has promised. To that end we will focus our attention, and to that end we will engage our labors.
One more thought before I close this week’s “Tom’s Pen.” There are many once-faithful saints who, for one reason or another, have allowed the devil to delude, deceive, and destroy their faith in God. Perhaps a weak brother or sister will read this article, and realize that with God’s great grace and His wonderful love for their soul, they will be willing to repent of their sins, and join me in repeating the refrain of that old Gene Autry song, “I’m back in the saddle again.”