Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 23, 2014


Some songs bring certain people to mind


       Some songs are connected, in my mind, to particular persons. When I hear “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy, for example, I think about my wife. Dean dearly loves that traumatizing music.

        George Beverly Shea comes to mind when I hear “How Great Thou Art.” He must have sung that song a thousand times in Billy Graham crusades.

        “I Saw the Light” reminds me of Hank Williams who wrote the song. I wonder if he really did “trade the wrong for the right” before he passed away one night in his Cadillac. I hope so.

        “Wade in the Water” reminds me of Eddie Smith and his quartet. Thirty years ago Eddie, Greg, Tommy and Bill taught me to love that stirring spiritual. I loved to listen to them sing about our Lord.

        “Man of Sorrows,” a hymn, brings Joni Eareckson Tada to mind. I was not familiar with this hymn until I heard Joni sing it in a testimony. You may recall that Joni, though a paraplegic, is a well-known artist, author and speaker. She broke her neck diving into a pool during her late teens.

        In her testimony Joni tells how, before her accident, she played on the school hockey team with her best friend Jackie. After losing a close game one night they began crying while riding the bus home. They remembered that they were Christians so they started singing, “Man of Sorrows, what a name, for the Son of God who came, ruined sinners to reclaim. Hallelujah, what a Savior.”

        Sometime later, now crippled, Joni was surprised one night to have her friend Jackie slip into the hospital after hours and crawl into the hospital bed with her. Jackie held Joni’s paralyzed hand up in the air and began to sing, “Man of Sorrows….”

        Joni said that her faith in the goodness of God was restored that night as once again she and Jackie sang that hymn together. She began to believe again that God is good even if you are imprisoned in a wheelchair.

        But that is not the end of the story. Years later Joni heard that tragedy had befallen her friend Jackie. She and her husband had separated; their son Joshua was dead. A troubled teenager, Joshua became addicted to drugs. One night he left a suicide note in the mailbox on the street, set himself on fire and burned his dad’s house down around him.

        Joni went to Jackie, embraced her and once again they sang together the stirring hymn, “Man of Sorrows.” Eventually Jackie found peace, and said to Joni, “I’ve got this cross around my neck. It’s the one my son gave me. Every time I start to feel desperate, like I can’t make it, like I’m in prison, then I hold on to this cross until I have peace.”  I can never sing “Man of Sorrows” without thinking about Joni and Jackie and how that hymn helped them face their hardships.

        I will mention one final song – “I Stand Amazed in the Presence of Jesus the Nazarene.” It reminds me of myself. I do love that song! It stirs my heart like few others.

        Songs make such a powerful difference in our lives, don’t they?

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