Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wonderful Words of Life

Ella strokes her little girl’s blond curls one more time before slipping out of the quietness of a room awash in daisy wallpaper and stuffed animals “sleeping” with eyes wide open. The heaviness of her heart belies the sweetness and calm behind the now-closed door.

Another day of intense headlines from every corner of the world struggle to fill this mom’s head and heart, and are slowly succeeding. “There really are no surprises here,” she whispers to no one. “God told us this time would come.”

“The Last Days.”

She enters the living room and sinks into the nearest sofa cushion. The evening news replays the terror of so many innocent lives, born and unborn. “Lord,” she sighs.

She clicks on the late night news, then quickly dismisses it with another click. “I could never understand how EVERY nation would align against Israel. We’ve always been Her closest ally, at least until now. We have a president who brags that we are no longer a Christian nation. How could we actually elect a man with no heart for God or His chosen people.”

She leans her head against the back of the sofa. Somewhere in her memory the words “Sing them over again to me.  Wonderful words o…. “ seem to her to be audible.

“What was that song Mother used to sing? ‘Let me more of something, something.’” Somehow, even the sparse recollection warms her a little and she feels the tension ease from her creased forehead.

Little by little, phrases from songs her mother used to hum or sing throughout the day gather in her memory. She wishes she had listened more attentively while she could. Those childhood memories are all she has now. Had it only been six years? It seems much longer since the source of her nighttime comfort had passed away.

Her own curls had been unruly and red. But her mother would smooth them just as lovingly as she sang, not a child’s lullaby, but the words of a hymn from years, maybe centuries ago. It always worked. Whatever the day had held, the softness of her mother’s touch coupled with the equally soft voice was a gentle form of hypnosis each night.

“I wonder why we don’t still sing hymns in church. Praise songs are wonderful. They’re filled with truth, and isn’t that why we’re there on Sunday morning? Is it just my personal memory that makes the multiple verses of Mother’s favorite songs seem to special?”

She turns sideways toward the dusty piano keys beside her easy chair. Surely there is a hymnal somewhere in the box of dated sheet music she had inherited along with the old upright. “There it is.”

“Sing them over again to me
Wonderful words of life.
Let me more of their beauty see
Wonderful words of life.”

“How long has it been?” Ella muses as she searches for chords and bass notes. It takes a few shaky attempts, but soon her fingers find familiar notes and positions on the key board. She scans the browning pages of ancient sermons set to music: “Have Thine Own Way,” “Just As I Am,” “I Surrender All.”

“'I Surrender All.' All of my heart and will. All of my fears of so much uncertainty and even things that are absolutely certain and heading our way. My daughter, the one blessing of a painful and failed marriage." How Ella longs for the comfort and security of a strong and loving husband.

“On Christ the solid rock I stand…” Ella’s rock feels more like an earthquake threatening to open up beneath her small home, then close over her and her blond princess sleeping in the next room.

She continues through the stanzas of more promise and hope historically written through times of suffering, yet trusting. They were inspired words of different eras, yet so familiar in their searching. Another sigh, then Ella retreats to a chair she often shares with her best friend Bailee. She lifts the fuzzy face to her own and begins to sing once again, “Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life. Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life.”

A sense of who she was begins to reappear. The little girl’s childlike faith joins with memories of her mother’s voice singing God’s reassurance into the still of her own bedroom so many years ago. The next book within her reach is her Bible.

Tomorrow will be a better day. A day of renewed hope and the knowledge that The Solid Rock is the same today as all of the days before, and each day to come.

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