I grew up in a Southern Baptist church that wasn't a particularly riveting place to be--at least to a kid. In fact, I spent the better part of my growing up years thinking that church was D-U-L-L, dull. I complained to my parents about this, and my wise mother simply told me, "Read the hymnbook." So I did. Thus much of my theology in my earliest years came from those old Baptist hymns, and what rich theology it was! They are my favorite songs to this day. I think back over my life and realize that there were many times when the hymns ministered to me almost as much as Scripture did--sometimes, maybe even more.
When I was college and spent a year running from God, thinking the whole deal was a bunch of hooey, I couldn't shake these words:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Years later, after we miscarried our first baby right in the middle of Easter season, as re-birth and life were celebrated all around us, there were moments I thought I'd stop breathing. But Easter morning God threw me a lifeline with this song:
Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives.
I survived my third child's bout of colic (and three months of incessant crying--his and mine) by rocking him and singing this song about 50 quadzillion times:
I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
Then there's this one, that makes me think of my Dad:
I love to tell the story,
'Twill be my theme in Glory,
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love.
And this one, that makes me think of my mom:
Amazing love, how can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.
When I sing those songs, I feel a rich kinship with the millions of believers who have sung them before, in pews, battlefields, hospitals, cemetaries, schools, cars, prisons and kitchens--believers with different struggles, crying out in different languages, and at different points in history, but all singing to the same God. I think that's a little glimpse of what Heaven will be like.
What about you? Do you have a hymn story you'd like to share? I'd love to hear it.