Those Who Have Gone Before Me

Some cultures don’t encourage people to speak of the dead.  They believe that it is going to bring bad luck if you speak about someone who has passed away.  I am thankful that I wasn’t raised in that cultural mind frame.  Most of us in my area of America are allowed to grieve openly for those who have passed away.  Most of us in my culture cherish the memory of those who have gone before us.  We remember them openly and talk about the stories of their lives. We tell our children about them and what kind of person they were.  As Christians we know that we will see them all one day and while there is comfort in that thought we also feel comforted in our remembrance of them while they were among us.   This morning I thought of some of my loved ones who have passed away.  Perhaps it is because this week is my Dad’s birthday and my thoughts have drifted to the past and the loved ones who have departed.  To honor them I sat down at my piano and played some of their favorite songs.

My brother was the first to depart from our lives in December 1975.  His favorite hymn was The Old Rugged Cross.  It was my Grandad Slim’s favorite song too.  It was also one of my sister’s favorite hymns as well.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, has a wondrous attraction for me; for the dear Lamb of God left His glory above, to bear it to dark Calvary. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine such a wonderful beauty I see for ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died to pardon and sanctify me. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear; then He’ll call me someday to my home far away, where His glory forever I’ll share.  So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.

What a beautiful old hymn, don’t you think?  According to Wikipedia.org the song was written by American George Bennard in 1912 and published in 1915.  He became a Christian while attending a Salvation Army meeting.  The Salvation Army is still going strong and I am thankful that they are all these years later.  They do much to help people change their lives.

The next song I played was to honor my Dad.  When he was eleven years old his beloved Mother died and he never forgot her.  The song Shall We Gather At The River was played at her funeral and every time my Dad heard this song sung or played he had tears in his eyes because it reminded him of his pain in losing her.  I remember when I was a teenager we were standing and singing this song in our little country church and my Dad was so broken up that his tears flowed down his cheeks and I was so shaken by his emotion.  I understand now but I didn’t back then.  I cry sometimes too Dad.

Shall we gather at the river, where bright angel feet have trod, with it’s crystal tide forever flowing by the throne of God?  Yes, we’ll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river; Gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God. 

On the margin of the river, washing up it’s silver spray, we will talk and worship ever, all the happy golden day. Yes, we’ll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river; gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.

Ere we reach the shining river, lay we every burden down; grace our spirits will deliver, and provide a robe and crown.  Yes, we’ll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river; gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.

At the smiling of the river, mirror of the Savior’s face, saints, whom death will never sever, lift their songs of saving grace.  Yes, we’ll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river; gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.

Soon we’ll reach the silver river, soon our pilgrimage will cease; soon our happy hearts will quiver with the melody of peace.  Yes, we’ll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river; gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.

The composer of this hymn was the American Robert Lowry and he wrote it in 1864 where he ministered as a Baptist preacher, according to Wikapedia.org.  It reminds us that one day we all will meet again at the river of life in heaven.  I like that!  I am sure to see many of my loved ones there.  I hope to greet you there also.

The last song I played this morning in honor of loved ones who have gone before me into death and eternal life was for my Mom and Grandma Slim.  They both really liked the song One Day At A Time.  It is more current than the last two and was written by Americans Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson and was released in 1974.  It was very popular on the radio as many found strength from the words.

I’m only human I’m just a woman, help me believe in what I could be and all that I am.  Show me the stairway I have to climb, Lord for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.  One day at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking from you, give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do.  Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine, so for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.

Do you remember when you walked among men?  Well Jesus you know if you’re looking below it’s worse now than then.  Pushin’ and shoving’ crowdin’ my mind.  So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.  One day at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking from you.  Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do.  Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine.  Yes just for my sake teach me to take one day at a time

As I age I realize the importance of being ready to meet God because it will come one day, just as death came for my family whom I love dearly.  We are to be prepared for whenever death takes us.  For some, like my brother, death comes early in life after all he was only 22 years old.  For others it comes later like my father who was 82 years old and my mother who was 85 years old.  My sister was 60 years old and both my grandparents were 82 years old when they passed from this earth and into eternity.   Jesus reminds us of this fact and I hope you are watching and prepared when death takes you too.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.  Matthew 24:42-44, (New International Version).

Until next time…Katherine

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