This week brings me to a special hymn because it was given to me by my father-in-law as a favourite filled with memories and life-long meaning. I don’t think he will mind me sharing his story, and it once again reminds me of how long-lasting the impact of some of these hymns can be. He recalls that as a child he observed his grandfather baptizing people outdoors and as each person emerged from the water, those gathered would sing a verse of this song. What an image. Rising from the waters of this spiritual rite and hearing your community singing in support of your faith.
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
I was so struck by the image of a young boy observing an elder family member practice his faith in a very real and meaningful way. This child, looking upon a spiritual leader, grew into a man who holds the memory of this demonstration dear in his heart. More than 60 years later it was still powerful enough to share. I think there is a lesson in this for all of us. We have little idea of what long-term impact our behaviour and actions have on the children around us. We can’t see into the future how an afternoon’s memory will carry someone throughout their life. We can’t predict which demonstration of our beliefs and values will be the thing that sustains through challenges or perhaps, prepares one for being the sustainer.
But we never can prove
The delights of his love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor he shows,
For the joy he bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
When I sat down to work on this hymn, I found myself reflecting on both the simplicity and depth of this childhood experience. But I also heard a kind of flying. Sailing up from the waters and representing a life guided firmly by one’s values; carried carefully by one’s faith. I understand that this means something different to each of us, but our ability to sow the seeds of memory that may grow into life-long sustenance requires us all to find and stand on solid ground. My hope is that this song will remind you of someone who gave you that kind of experience as a child. Or, perhaps, be a reminder that in your actions, small and large, you may be gifting something that 60 years from now will be remembered, shared and treasured.