Love began with ‘Assurance’

Published 12:29 am Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My daddy taught me the first hymn I ever sang. I was too young to read the words printed in the hymnal and I so wanted to join in when the congregation stood up to sing on Sunday morning.

Knowing how much it meant to me, Daddy decided to teach me the words to “Blessed Assurance.” I memorized the lyrics and I practiced and practiced, waiting for the day the music director called out that song title.

When that Sunday finally arrived, I jumped up from the pew holding a hymnal turned to the correct page, thanks to some help from Daddy. I remember feeling so big and important standing there singing, “Blessed assurance Jesus is mine…” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Daddy watching me and smiling.

For some reason, that is the memory that came to me as I thought about turning 62 this week. At first, I couldn’t quite imagine why that was what came into my mind looking back on more than 60 years of life. Then it occurred to me that it made perfect sense because music is, and always has been, a big part of my life.

There was music in our house when I was growing up — all kinds of music. The radio, set on the Big Bam, might be playing the latest rock and roll. Or Daddy and Mother could be listening to Benny Goodman or the soundtrack from a Broadway show blasting from our big stereo.

Of course, there was church music, starting with the songs we learned in Sunday school. I still remember the words to many of them.

“Jesus loves the little children.

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white,

They are precious in his sight…”

One of my favorite songs is one I sang almost as soon as I could talk.

“God’s beautiful world.

God’s beautiful world.

I love God’s beautiful world…”

As I recalled those songs, I smiled thinking about their wonderful messages of love and about how we, how all of creation, shares a deep connection, messages that became an important theme running throughout the years of my life.

In the midst of my remembering, I read something posted by my friend, Jan, that said so well how I feel about life and about getting older.

“In this life, we are all just walking up the mountain.

And we can sing as we climb,

Or we can complain about our sore feet.

Whichever way we choose, we still gotta do the hike.

I decided a long time ago

Singing made a lot more sense.”

Now, I’ve walked as far up the mountain as 62 years will take a person, and I’m realistic enough to know that the hike is more than half-finished. However, I like where I’m standing and if I look back at all the paths that got me here, I can honestly say, I wouldn’t change a thing because it took every single step to land me on this spot.

That said,, I think, at least I hope, I have some interesting climbing left yet before I reach the end of the journey. So, on this birthday morning, I’ll lace up my walking shoes, clear my throat, stand as tall and proud as I did that Sunday long ago, and maybe sing a line or two of “Blessed Assurance,” knowing Daddy is probably listening and smiling.