It IS Well With My Soul
It’s been nine years. Nine years since I heard your voice. Nine years since I saw your smile. Nine years since I kissed your cheek and hugged you tight. Nine Father’s Days without you.
They say time heals all wounds, but I am learning that there are some wounds that don’t need to heal. I don’t want to forget you. The grieving is a reminder of how much I was loved by you. And how much I loved you in return.
The phrase “grieving with hope” has been stuck in my mind since yesterday when a friend and I cried together over our losses and she reminded me through her tears that we have hope in the midst of our grief. And then I read 1 Thessalonians 4:13 this morning as part of my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. (CSB)
It’s no mistake that I read that this morning. I see God’s sweetness and his goodness to me everywhere. Thank you for teaching me to love God’s Word! What an encouragement it is to my heart. I cannot imagine going through life without this anchor for my soul. It’s too hard, Daddy! But your faithful and steady love for the Lord continues to reap benefits. I have an unshakable hope, the very thing you prayed for all of your girls to have.
Yesterday was Father’s Day and I had the privilege of singing with Lindsay on our praise team with Dave playing guitar and Ethan on the sound board. It was reminiscent of Sundays at St. Pauls when Mom would lead the choir, Janey would play piano and the rest of us would sing! What a privilege it is to serve the Lord in this way. Thank you for instilling a love for music, for praising God and for using our gifts to serve him in me. It brings great delight.
The first song we sang nearly brought me to tears of joy as I looked out over our congregation and saw our precious young ones signing the words to the song. For God so love the world that he gave us, his one and only Son to save us, whoever believes in him, will live forever!
Then we sang Jesus Messiah and I was almost brought to tears again, because it will forever remind me of six year old Lindsay singing this song with all of her heart. I will never forget the Sunday when we sang this song in the beautiful sanctuary in Greenwich, CT, looking out on the lush green trees that surrounded the building, and Lindsay held the melody while I sang harmony! It’s a memory I will cherish always. It was the beginnings of her love for Jesus taking hold in her life.
I did shed a few tears when Dave prayed for a precious older saint who had to be taken to the hospital between Sunday School and the Worship Service. Later I was reminded of the quote by Jane Austen, “I have no notion of loving people by halves”, and although it was spoken by a character I was not fond of, I resonate deeply with the quote itself. I don’t know how to not love fully and care deeply. You taught me that too, Daddy! It all started with your intentional encouragement of me to visit our older neighbor down the street, to just spend time with her and listen to her stories. I’m so grateful you did that. It’s hard when our loved ones struggle, but I never regret loving them.
Next we sang In Christ Alone and this one always affects me deeply. The line “from life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny”, inevitably makes me think of the picture of you holding four month old Ainsley. It evokes emotions of joy and sorrow intertwined with the knowledge that Jesus is sovereign over all of it. And he is good. How kind he was to give me Ainsley, knowing that he would be taking you home in the same year! She is a constant reminder of God’s trustworthiness. Yes, there is sorrow. But there is also joy. I dressed Ainsley in a bright yellow dress for your funeral. She looked like sunshine and that is exactly what she was. A ray of light in an otherwise dark time. Grieving, but not without hope!
Dave preached from Colossians 2:8-15. I think if you had been able to give commentary on this sermon, you would have said that he preached with power and that the Lord used his words to challenge and encourage hearts. As I sat and watched my husband preach so passionately, I thought about how blessed I have been to have had you as my pastor in my growing up years and to have my husband faithfully preaching the Word as my pastor now. I don’t take this for granted. The criticism I have watched you both endure has been heartbreaking at times, yet I have the unique perspective of knowing the truth about these things! You were/are men of great integrity with hearts that desire God’s glory alone. I see the same wisdom in my husband that I saw in you and I am forever grateful.
The service ended with singing “It Is Well”. I knew it would be rough, but I also felt joy in the opportunity to sing “our” song, a fitting tribute to you and a joyous celebration of God’s goodness. It’s incredible to go through the roughest storms, yet to see how He graciously holds us close and carries us through. You demonstrated this to me my whole life. You lived and breathed the words “whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul”! You endured great difficulty with a faithful trust in our gracious God. This complete dependence on God has given me a solid foundation for life. Thank you, Daddy!
The last Father’s Day I spent with you is one I will cherish always! The impact you have had on my life is endless.
Love you always,