Friday, June 24, 2016


She feels restless in her seat, the church pew not quite deep enough for a good sit-down and not quite soft enough to be indulgent. The preacher's message rolls along in a rhythmic cadence peppered with all-too familiar words and phrases like "redeemed" and "washed in the blood." The learning of the Word fulfills her mind and no-nonsense outlook. The singing, though. That's where she feels. The words, lovely poetry like the kind she's always admired, resound with truth, their echoes hammering out assurance deep in her bosom.

Assurance. What a word. The assurance of her faith comforts her but for a time, the lack of it elsewhere left her feeling parched and dry. Years had passed since the babe left her after that fall. The disappointment, though many moons behind her, sometimes stings sharp and fresh, even still. Too, her precious girl--too soon to have been born, also long gone; never having said goodbye or even hello--haunts her deep within. But people don't talk of such things.

Years have passed. That prayer was whispered in the dark of her room months before. The same one as that Hannah woman whose longing was so familiar. "Lord Almighty,  if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life..." And then there was an answer...assurance from her God, given months ago. A smile crosses her lips.

She waits, patiently-impatient, for the prayer that will signal the piano player to rise and make her way to the front, accompanying the altar call with the gentle strains of a beckoning hymn. The bulletin's words tell her what song it is that will usher in that sacred closing. The moment comes and with tingling in her feet, ready to rise, she scoots to the edge of the rough pew. Standing quickly--as close to not jumping up as she can manage, she breathes in, ready to begin, waiting for the music minister to start the steady, even sway of his leading hand.

That song is her anthem--an adoration that she will forever cling to. He gave it to her the Sunday after. Singing those words, her spirit brightens within her. Musical praise of heavenward worship fills her, sharpens and strengthens her sweet soprano.
Great is thy faithfulness
O God, my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not;
As thou hast been, thou forever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

The pews need a good rubbing down with oil. He examines the joints of the boards, half listening to the sermon. Woodworking is something he can see himself doing in retirement years. But God will take him before retirement, of this he is certain. These words the pastor speaks, they are Life and Truth but they escape him. Just beneath the surface of things, he senses the ticking, whirring parts. It's those parts that fascinate him. The Creator was definitely mechanical and scientific in His approach. But the music will snap him back to the broader world. It can be overwhelming to feel what he feels when certain songs play. He wants to shove that down deep. Feelings are for women. Men work. Act. Remain steady. He is just a bit frightened of the unsteady he feels with those precious few songs he truly loves.

Unsteady. There have been years of unsteady. Men take wives. They work, they create families, they support those families. Rhythm. Tick-tock, moving parts. It works this way; until it doesn't. She fell and he couldn't catch her. The yet unborn life they'd created left them.  And then the daughter; HIS daughter. She was so small and so strange. It was too soon and there was barely a glimpse before they whisked her away and she too was gone. His hands ached for a child to hold, to mold, to be a father to. A long time had passed. He wanted a son. He was certain. "God, give me a boy," was the prayer. "He will be yours but please, Lord. Please. I want to be a father."

Glancing over, he catches that sweet, wry smile he loves so much it hurts. Her hand lays in his. The invitation is beginning and the strains of her favorite fill the sanctuary. They stand--she faster and he knows why. This song is her anthem now. Great has been His faithfulness to them. He sings, remembering his favorite, also a gift from the Almighty. On the day they found out, there had been church meeting that evening. One hymn only to open the meeting and it had been that one he had always liked best:
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder;
Thy power throughout, the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee,
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee,
How great thou art! How great thou art!

How Great. How Faithful. Let their souls sing always.