inspitational Christian writing

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Repost from November 2010

I grew up listening to old Hymnal songs in a conservative Baptist setting. I didn’t do too much in the way of singing. Sometimes when I did sing it was usually done out of sheer boredom.

I heard the songs so often during my formative years that sometimes even now at this age, I wake up with one of those old traditional Hymns stuck in my head. You might remember some of them, like Amazing Grace, Just As I Am, How Great Thou Art?

Last Thursday I heard one of those old Hymns I hadn’t heard in decades. The song is titled It Is Well With My Soul.

I may have heard the history of the song sometime in my life because the author of the song’s name sounded familiar. That sort of history doesn’t matter too much to a bored kid. The words of the song, however, would remain in that kid’s mind and heart forever.

The song was written by Horatio G. Spafford. Spafford lost his son at four years of age. Shortly thereafter, the successful attorney lost the majority of his wealth in a real estate investment due to the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

Two years later Spafford planned a trip for his family to visit Europe. A business issue required he be delayed from his trip. Spafford sent his wife and four daughters ahead planning to follow a few days in arrears.

The ship his family was traveling on collided with an English vessel and disappeared below the surface of the water within minutes. Spafford’s wife was the only family survivor. After being taken to safety, she cabled her husband with only two words. The words he read were, “Saved alone.”

I can’t imagine the dreadful voyage navigating the Atlantic on his way to recapture his only remaining family member.

The amazing part of that journey is when close to where he lost his remaining children, Safford penned the song that multiple millions of people would hear and sing over the next almost 140 years and certainly beyond.

Here is the first verse:

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

It is well with my soul

image courtesy of it’s like this. org

I was reminded of the history behind this song at my wife’s friend Candy’s funeral. Candy was an amazing person, blessed by God with the gift of teaching, compassion and mercy, just to name a few.

I’m not sure who chose this song to be sung at her funeral, but I know her husband Steve, like Horatio Spafford, echos the words given by God to soothe his soul.

To know with confidence the ones taken by God are in a better place is the reason we can be well in spirit even as we suffer in this flesh.

I thought of difficult times in my life. My soul squirms, dodges, and weaves, trying to bear up under the flesh. Occasionally God will use events in my life like the example of Steve and Candy to remind me, “Whatever my lot, He has taught me to say, it is well with my soul.”

During those most difficult times, I feel the hand of God lift me up with one hand and cover me like a small bird with His other.

“It is well with my soul.” Those words have been with me my whole life. As God guides me through this life, may He give me the strength to honor Him under all circumstances.

May God give me the will to say every day, including the one He chooses to take me home,

“It is well, it is well, with my soul”…

RUBBING SHOULDERS

We were clipping along around twenty miles an hour, heading south on PCH, on our bicycles, almost rubbing shoulders with pedestrians on one side and cars on the other.

Some of the people swarming the sidewalks between us and the ocean I couldn’t see, but I could smell. The perfume of the woman in the tiny red economy car was so strong it almost knocked me over after she passed.

The guy with no shirt and hairy armpits wasn’t smoking a cigarette by the time we whizzed past him, but the stench of body odor mixed with stale cigarette smoke made my eyes burn. It’s tough to share air and rub elbows with some folks.

A few days later, back at home, my mind still pondering the subject of rubbing elbows and sharing air with others in our paths, I took the dreaded trip to the grocery store.

I’ve come to realize I pick lanes at the grocery store about as well as I do the ones while I’m driving…

Rubbing Shoulders

image courtesy of the flavored word .com

I used my God given reason and sense. The express lane only had two people in it. The senior man with the black glasses and over exposed bald head in the front of the line was almost done checking out… or so I thought.

The old fella was asking about his coupons clearly unaware or uncaring that he’d log jammed the express lane.

I spotted a middle aged gal a couple lanes down, that had moved from behind me, bagging her groceries… and I’m still one person back.

The closer I got to the automatic doors and freedom the final hurdle dawned on me; the checkout lady. She was in her sixties, bleached golden and bobbed hair, round cheeks. She sounded like she was trying to talk with her tongue sticking out.

When I finally got to the front of the line that would have tested a turtle’s patience, I realized that the checkout lady did have tongue issues. She had one, it just didn’t work. She’d had a stroke.

“Hhhhh – uuuu – ooo – ta – deh?” she asked in a friendly tone. My mind raced to catch up.

“Uh – Good. I”m good. How are you?” I asked.

“Guhh,” she smiled.

My anxiousness from being in the express line traffic jam quickly faded.

Mid check out, the cashier stopped, stuck her tongue out, and clumsily pinched around the edges of her tongue with her thumb and forefinger, searching for what I assume was a hair.

I didn’t say anything, but my eyebrows almost touched my receding hairline.

The cashier didn’t even wipe her fingers off. She grabbed my groceries with the same fingers and started pulling them across the scanner… That’s hard for a germaphobe to take…

A lot of us go out of our way to keep our world as germ free and medicinal as possible – I’m no exception.

The truth is we share this beautiful but fallen world with all kinds of folks. We worry about germs sometimes without a thought to the souls of the other we’re rubbing shoulders with.