On stage in the choir were about 130 senior citizens.
The audience was filled with all ages, tucked into the pews on a Sunday night for what had been billed as an ‘Old Fashioned Hymn Sing.’
The songs of the night were the hymns of camp meetings and revivals that my parents and grandparents listened to and sang during their youth.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of those who sang with memories of the night the Lord called to them, and the words they sang all those years ago as they walked an aisle.
I sat in the audience and watched my friends on stage, these men and women who often remind me how they knew me when I was only ‘this tall’ and had lots of red hair.
At the beginning of one of the hymns, a friend stood to a microphone and shared how he sang these words sixty years ago at a tent revival, just two blocks from where we sat in the sanctuary. That summer night as the chorus came, he made it to the aisle and began to walk forward to pray with the pastor and confess Christ as Lord. He said that he could never forget singing these simple words through tear-filled eyes as he felt the light and heat of the Savior’s call upon his heart:
“No, never alone,
no never alone,
He promised never to leave me,
never to leave me alone.”
I sat there with my family, and we sang of the hope of the Gospel – the beauty of our Savior and our trust in him for the years to come – our hope in who he is and how he is to be trusted.
Then it hit me.
As I sang with a thankful heart for the life and grace I have been given thus far, grateful for the Lord and excited for the years to come – my friends sang of the same Savior and hope, but in retrospect as they looked upon the decades of faithfulness they have seen from the Lord.
The years have passed, showing true the beauty of God’s grace and provision in their lives, serving as fuel for their praise. Their eyes bright with hope of the future, and of their past. Their eyes alive with love for Jesus – a love at rest in him.
We sing with the same hope, because our Lord is faithful and true. It is the same reason why young believers crave the mentorship and friendship of the older members of the body – because the years bring a humble reliance that is fortified by rich testimony of the Lord’s grace. A few years ago our pastor taught through Ecclesiastes, and painted the scene of Solomon being the grandfather who offers a cup of coffee as you join him on the porch for a Saturday morning. Those who have been blessed to have friends and/or grandfathers such as this know the beauty of hearing from a man that has been brought through the years by the Lord’s grace – and the treasure of his experience, let alone that time together.
I want to sit with the 70 year old saint that loves Jesus, and I want to pick his brain and hear his stories and see the truth in his eyes that Jesus is and has been faithful – that his grace is rich and beautiful, and that his friendship is the richest of fare. In my worry of what the years to come may hold, I can hear and see the faithfulness of the Lord worked out in the lives of such men, and praise God that he is good, and that he is merciful.
May he give us 70 years, and may he grant grace for each day to be faithful to him – knowing that he will never leave us alone.