When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Today is a very special day, so I have chosen a very special hymn to highlight in my Songs for Sunday series: “It Is Well with My Soul.” This was my dad’s favorite hymn, and he was the living expression of it. Dad loved the Lord and served Him faithfully. He didn’t send us to church, he took us to church. Regularly. Family Bible time was not quite as regular, and it always bothered him that he was not more consistent, but still He taught us the importance of spending time in God’s Word and in prayer.
My dad was not perfect, but he was my hero, my idol, and my role model. I remember when I was younger desiring so much to please him. He had six daughters, and he loved us all, but he wanted a son. He got that son in due time, but until then, I tried to be a son to him. I remember going out to work on cars with him, dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a white T-shirt, just like Dad. I didn’t know a crescent wrench from a screwdriver, but he was patient with me and taught me everything that I had the capacity to learn.
Dad was not an emotional man, and I seldom saw him cry. So when tears did stain his cheeks, I knew that the moment was priceless to him: like when he left me at college my freshman year, when he left me at the wedding altar, and when he spoke at my husband’s navy retirement ceremony. Dad loved our country, and he loved the navy. He served 23 years, but that wasn’t long enough. Forced into retirement due to his health, he said at my husband’s ceremony, “I’d go back today if they would take me.”
Dad was thrifty with his “I love yous” and hugs, but there were other ways that he let us know we were loved. For instance, while I was in college—before the days of cell phones, Dad called me long distance every Saturday morning, like clockwork. Those phone calls meant the world to me.
Dad was married twice, and he loved both his wives. I remember growing up, when he would leave the house, he would always give my stepmom a hug and three kisses. Smack, smack, smack. You could hear it in the other room. I kind of sounded like her on the phone, and a time or two when I answered the phone, the affection in his voice warned me I should tell him right away that he was not speaking to his wife! And to see him sitting next to my mom at the funeral of two of their grand babies… Such a tragic time, and yet it was good to see that Mom and Dad were still friends. There had been irreconcilable differences, but I suppose it’s true that you never forget your first love. That’s what they showed me anyway.
As I look back on the photos of my dad, one thing I noticed was that he loved his grandchildren. There were so many snapshots of him holding his grand babies, from tiny ones just born to rambunctious toddlers. And as the children grew older, they still gathered around him.
And then there were the months leading up to his final day on this earth, where every other weekend I would drive the two hours to sit with him so my stepmom could go to church. At first we would play games together and work simple puzzles. When that was too much for him, we would watch his (our) favorite movies and TV shows together. When the TV no longer held his interest, I would sing and read to him. He never told me to be quiet. Maybe he couldn’t. Or maybe he didn’t want to.
I thank God for my dad and for the legacy he left behind for us. He only lived 63 years, but he lived them well. Whatever his lot, God had taught him to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!