Monday, June 21, 2010

How Great

I hope all my male readers who are fathers or who have been a good influence on a child or young person enjoyed a nice Father's Day yesterday. Good dads are a treasure and I'm grateful for each of you who endeavor to be the kind of dad your kids need and for those who take the time to mentor children who are not their own.

Now for today's reflection on a man who helped guide me and the boy Mr. Lime and I are guiding to adulthood...

The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide

And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me

How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Fourteen year old Isaac and I are in my van, which died a few days ago. We thought it was something awful and expensive like the head gasket. Mercifully, it only required a major tune-up. Three hundred-fifty dollars is a big dent in the wallet but it was manageable. A new car or engine would not have been. It's also just two days after Calypso has been released from the hospital after an ER run because she had stopped eating and drinking with a particularly hideous case of mono. Isaac has his Ipod hooked up to portable speakers so we can both hear the music and this song has just started. He likes to rank many different things in his life. He tells me on his Christian Music List this is his #1. I smile. It's a good song. The chorus reminds me of the hymn my grandfather would have called his #1 (yes, that would have been his favored version).

Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook and feel the gentle breeze

Then sings my soul my Saviour God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art?
Then sings my soul my Saviour God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art?

I am fourteen and in church with Mom-mom and Pop-pop, standing between them as we share two hymnals between the three of us. I have not grown up going to church but I've been attending with my grandparents for a couple of years now. I am here of my own accord. Pop-pop drives 10 miles out of his way each Sunday to come get me so I can be in church. I often feel very ignorant of the things everyone else here seems to know. Sometimes I am too shy to ask questions for fear of being thought stupid. I have a great sense of my smallness in the world because of how I've grown up, because of my perceived ignorance, because of the grandeur of this architecture and the adornments of the sanctuary. But I do find sanctuary here between my grandparents. I do know there is a God out there who is immeasurably great and that He reached down toward me.

I ponder the words I am singing when Mom-mom whispers to me, "This is your grandfather's favorite." I think about the night sky and how vast it is, but God is vaster still. I think about being in the mountains with my other grandparents and how calming the walks in the woods are, how the stream cools my feet on a hot day, how Grampop calls the birds in to eat from his hands, how God made all of that. My thoughts turn back to Pop-pop and I think about how he is a man of the earth. He may be a diesel mechanic and an oil delivery man by trade but he's a farmer at heart. He knows how to read the sky and the weather. He knows how to coax the best vegetables and fruits from the large garden. He knows how to take care of the pigs and chickens with a minimum of fuss and he helps the local dairy farmers. He's not a demonstrative sort but I can tell he is happiest when he is turning soil with a hoe, sharing his bounty with those who need and appreciate it, or tending to the animals (even sharing a sandwich with the barn cats). I turn to look at Pop-pop. His eyes are closed as he sings with strength and conviction.

Oh, and when I think that God, his Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on that cross my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

When Christ shall come with shout of Acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart?
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim my God how great Thou art?

Then sings my soul my Saviour God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art?
Then sings my soul my Saviour God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art?

I am holding a hymnal with one hand as we continue to sing, Mom-mom on one side, Pop-pop on the other. I am grateful they help me get here each week and not just on Sunday. They come pick me up on Wednesdays so I can attend youth group too. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to go because the rule is parents have to help in some way for kids to be allowed to attend. I knew better than to even ask Dad. Mom said I could go as long as she didn't have to do anything. Mom-mom and Pop-pop asked the pastor if their service would be accepted on my behalf. They are only required to help one a month but they do a lot more. The whole youth group has dinner together at "family group" tables meaning we are assigned to sit with the same leaders and kids each week. My grandparents are not in the greatest health and could easily just be table parents but instead they work in the kitchen preparing meals for and cleaning up after over a hundred people. I'm singing the hymn and yes, I am thinking about the sacrifice God made but my mind also goes to the one my grandparents make for me. Out of the corner of my eye I see Pop-pop dabbing his eyes without shame as the final chorus swells. He straightens his back when we sing the Amen.

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

I hear Isaac singing his #1 song. I join him and think how this boy of mine who towers over me is becoming a man. I think of the man Pop-pop was and wonder what he'd think of his great grandson's #1. I wonder what he'd think of his great grandson. I'm sure he'd be pleased to know Isaac is a gentle person who likes to share things he enjoys with those around him. I know he'd be as glad as I am that Isaac would be happy to sit down and have a talk with an older man, that he looks at the world around him and finds amazing things, that he looks in awe at the greatness of God. I wonder what sorts of conversations Pop-pop and Isaac might have had. I wish my grandfather could have known and shared such things with my son. Isaac and I sing the final line. I realize my cheeks are damp but I smile knowing one day they'll have a chance to share in the presence of their great God. How great...


Cricket said...

... and mine are a little damp too, thinking of my own sons and what they will be, themselves. Thanks for this wonderful and personal reflection.

I know you've read the posts I made on my own grandparents - among the most significant relationships in my life. I look at my boys and often wonder what Nana and Grampa would think of them...

I'm sure they love them, in their own way. Love never fails. Never.

Craig said...

Thank you for this.

It is very beautiful, the way that some things get passed from one generation to another, two or three 'downstream', skipping the intermediate steps where necessary. God bless your Pop-pop for taking care of you, so his heritage could get thru to Isaac. God is very good. . .

And both of those songs are among my own favorites. . .

g-man said...

You Rock Meesh.....

choochoo said...

isn't it nice when stuff costs less than you had thought it would? Or maybe not...cause for me that always becomes an excuse for shopping and then I end up spending more than I had thought I would on the original thing. I have no self control

Craver Vii said...

Wow, Lime. I enjoyed seeing the layers of story about faith and legacy here. God, who is the Faithful One, the faith of your grandparents, the faith of your son, and your own faith as well.

Thank you for sharing this account. It is a great way to begin this week!

Suldog said...

Wonderfully written, Lime, and it brought so many nice memories of my own grandparents flitting to mind. Thank you for that.

By the way, just curious - Does Isaac know what his name means in Hebrew? I ask because I was listening to a preacher give a sermon this weekend on the story of Abraham and Isaac, and it always tickles me when I once again hear that Isaac means "laughing". What a great name!

Logophile said...

from the narrative,
to the result of the car care eval,
to the memories,
and the sentiments.
Really, truly great

crazy4coens said...

Wow! That was bee-u-tif-ul! Really great story telling!

I love both the songs, the second being my favorite. Singing it at church camp is one of my favorite corporate God memories.

Thanks for the share!

Cocotte said...

I love the way you wove both of the songs into this post! Both are great and I've always loved the 'lion and the lamb' part of song #1!

BBC said...

I can't say that I was a great father, but I wasn't a bad one either. Just a run of the mill father I guess.

Jocelyn said...

You accordion pleated time here and then unfolded it ever so gracefully and fanned every one of us readers.