Amazing Grace. A favorite hymn among many. Not for my mom and me. We played this tune at my grandmother’s funeral and, now, almost nine (wow, nine) years ago, we still can’t even hear the first chord without shedding tears.
So when we saw that it was in the lineup this past Sunday, we both gave each other that familiar glance: I’ll hold you up if you do the same for me.
Then, during our praise and prayer time, my friend, Amy took the mic to say that she was glad to see Amazing Grace on the agenda because it had been played at her mother’s funeral twenty-three years ago and last Sunday would have been her 84th birthday. She felt it was her mother saying, “Hey. I’m still here.”
And I wondered, “How could we have experienced the same song at a loved one’s funeral and yet she seemed so happy about it being played and I was so distraught?”
Amazing grace…how sweet the sound. Or was it? I tried to listen to each word, begging God to show me the good in this song. Once again, as I sang the words with my arm around my mother’s shoulders, tears streaming down my face, I fought to find the good in this hymn. I wanted to hear the “sweet sound” it promised.
As we sang each verse, I considered.
“That saved a wretch like me.” My grandmother had a large part in me being a Christian. She pointed to the Bible many times to make her points in life. I knew she loved the Lord. Her faith, and God’s gift, saved me.
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. (Ain’t that the truth?) ’tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.” Yes, it’ll lead me home to be with her. And it’ll get me there safely.
“The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.” He’ll be my shield – even against this song – if I ask him. His word secures my hope that I will be with her again. He’s promised good to me – that I will see my beloved grandmother in eternity. And so much more. (This is, by the way, my favorite verse.)
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun. We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.” Why am I pouting? Why am I so distraught? He has promised me SO much. I should be singing His praises each and every single moment of my life. Yes, I miss her. Yes, God, I miss her almost every day. But she wouldn’t want me to be distraught over this song – she’d want it to bring me closer to God.
And, I think, it has. It has left such an indelible mark on me that I know all the words now without looking at the hymn book. It makes me think of my grandmother every. single. time. She is not lost to me – she is with me every time I sing this song. And now, when I listen to every word, I try to find the good and it brings me into relationship with God.
Amazing Grace…despite my heartache, despite my longing to see her, despite how it makes me cry…how sweet the sound.