Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hymns and Funeral Home Fans...

The past week and a half have been a bit of a roller coaster ride.
I don't like roller coaster rides at theme parks; I certainly don't like them in real life where there is no ticket taker with a measuring stick to ensure that you are tall enough to be allowed on the ride in the first place.
This morning I am so thankful, even buoyed up by the sparkling new day outside, the gorgeous sunshine after days of overcast skies and intermittent rain. I am grateful that this day is open for me to do whatever I want to do; that I don't have to cope with my sister-in-law this morning (and she with me!)
And yet....
I have gained some wisdom and it's this: the curtain will be raised on the next act in my sister-in-law's life sooner rather than later and it won't be good. Today is, I believe, just a small intermission in the drama of her life and consequently in the drama of all our lives.
The doctor took her staples out yesterday so she insisted on going to her house to resume her normal life. But she was seriously dehydrated Tuesday night and still running a fever when Phil took her home yesterday so how normal can her life be?
She lives by herself although she has neighbors who try to watch out for her. Over the past week or so, we've seen her take too much medicine and not be aware that she was doing it. We've seen her consistently eat almost nothing and drink almost nothing - some days a small container of yogurt, half a cup of black coffee, and half a can of TAB and nothing else until supper time where she would eat a little more but not much.
Yet for the most part, she is lucid and able to control her own affairs. She is the older sister and the dominant personality in the family. And she has long prided herself on being the master of her fate, the captain of her soul - although she would never put it that way.
But that's what it boils down to. No matter what topic arises in conversation, she has seen a documentary on t.v., heard about it on the radio, and/or read a book about it. In the past whenever she held forth on a topic, she was usually right and had info none of the rest had at our fingertips.
She was witty, beautiful, and outgoing and to some extent still is. (Part of the reason she wouldn't eat much was because she knew she wasn't getting much exercise and she didn't want to gain weight) She also has a generous heart and a will to help others - she has blessed quite a few people in her home town.
But her wit and wisdom have turned into self-serving monologues that tend to keep others at arm's length. And at this point, she is captaining her ship right onto some serious shoals and we know it's just a matter of time before either she calls us and is forced to ask for help again or someone else calls us on her behalf...
And, seriously, how do you navigate your own ship from this world to the next when you need help accomplishing the simplest things and you are perhaps a little too dependent on pain meds without realizing it?
Don't we need a Savior?
The sweetest time that I have had throughout this past week and a half came last Friday night while I was sitting in the car waiting for Phil to take care of a little task for friends who were away for a few days. There in the stillness of the night, just as I was about to become impatient, God met me.
I don't know how else to put it. One minute I was starting to fret and the next hymns from my childhood just started running through my mind - songs I haven't sung in years.
Silly songs like "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam..." smile emoticon
Childhood songs like "Jesus Loves Me," and "The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, That's the Book For Me!".
Girl's in Action (G. A.) songs like "We've a Story to Tell to the Nations."
Campfire songs like "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus."
And hymns that I associate with my grandmother's little country church (where the singing was less than stellar as I recall smile emoticon Songs such as: "There Is Power in the Blood," "Rescue the Perishing," and "Christ Receiveth Sinful Men."
This morning as I sat with my open hymnal, those old hymns plus words from a more  "citified"  hymn spoke to my heart:
Be still, my soul! the Lord is on thy side; bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul! thy best, thy heavenly Friend, thro' thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
"Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain.." (Be Still, My Soul)
Years ago I acquired a BSE, an MSE, and six graduate hours above that. I have spent most of the years of my adult life promoting education and reading every book I could get my hands on. I have enjoyed all types of music - especially the modern choruses. And I don't know that I have ever valued the "old-timey" hymns that my grandma sang enthusiastically off key while fanning herself with a Funeral Home fan in a swelteringly hot country church.
Until now...
This is the bottom line: throughout the lows of these past 12 days, it has been those old, long discarded, "corny" hymns of humid summer Sundays and mosquito- ridden week night revival meetings that God has used to minister to my troubled heart; it has most definitely not been lessons learned at a professor's knee or facts gleaned from my honor's paper or all the books I read during my post graduate summer seminar on world cultures - as interesting as those things were.
No. The truth is: we are not masters of our fate nor are we captains of our souls. How can we be when we gradually lose the ability to recall and/or master the simplest of tasks?
The Bible has it right: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalms 73:26)
Today I am so thankful that I learned this truth at my mother's knee and heard it warbled off key ad nauseam in my grandmother's small church where harmony was not at a premium but gritty faith was.
Please keep praying for my sis-in-law.
Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heavenly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.
Sing it o’er and over again;
Christ receiveth sinful men;
Make the message clear and plain:
Christ receiveth sinful men.
Come, and He will give you rest;
Trust Him, for His Word is plain;
He will take the sinfulest;
Christ receiveth sinful men.
Now my heart condemns me not,
Pure before the law I stand;
He who cleansed me from all spot,
Satisfied its last demand.
Christ receiveth sinful men,
Even me with all my sin;
Purged from every spot and stain,
Heaven with Him I enter in.

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