He speaks to me everywhere

Published 6:05 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2019

“This Is My Father’s World” is an old hymn I learned as a child and sang last Sunday in church. I remember being very proud of myself when I learned a few verses of this hymn and “Jesus Loves Me.” Around the same time, I also memorized the prayer, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.” All three have served me very well in my life.

I was born with asthma. When I was a child, there was no medicine my parents knew of for this ailment. And, there were many evenings I stayed awake trying to breathe. The Vicks Vapor Rub and the whine of the vaporizer near my face did little to calm my fear that if I went to sleep, I would not wake up.   

For years, during the night, when the breathing was near impossible, I would rock back and forth on all fours repeating incessantly, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

I discovered the rhythm of the prayer along with the rocking would regulate my breathing. I also found peace that if I did not survive the night, I would awake in God’s arms.

I was 16 when I finally outgrew asthma, but I never forgot the little prayer which I always believed saved me more nights than I can fathom. Most all of us learned “Jesus Loves Me.” It is probably one of the first songs a preschooler is taught. I can’t sing a note, but when I was little, I sure thought I could and would belt this song loudly and proudly while causing discomfort to all the others Jesus loved.

How many times in my life have I thought I was alone and unloved? Those days when my battles with depression took my soul into depths of despair and questioning why I should continue on. Those troubling moments when I felt as if I failed and hope seemed unattainable.

Yet, somewhere, in the recesses of my heart and mind, I could hear the little girl joyously belting, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me!” The child who knew no one liked to listen to her sing, yet Jesus would happily listen time and time again because he loved her.

My friend’s granddaughter is four. She attended a preschool Christmas program to hear her little one sing.  Afterward, I asked her how Miss Precious did, “Well, she belted the song out of tune oblivious to the fact that she is probably not a small version of Taylor Swift. However, she sang with complete abandon and joy.”  Isn’t that really all that matters?

The last verse of “This is My Father’s World” rings in my ears today.

“This is my Father’s world

He shines in all that’s fair

In the rustling grass, I hear him pass

He speaks to me everywhere.”

When I reflect over the last three years and realize just how different my life is from what it was, I often ask myself, how did that happen?

I retired from a career, wrote a story that transpired into weekly columns, which turned into a book and met fabulous folks. And, trust me, I write not for the money because it is very little, but for the words ringing in my ears and for hearing the rustling in the grass. And, I wonder why.

Memories flood my mind with things I had long forgotten, and I see folks I once knew long ago as clearly as if they were here today, and I wonder why.

When I see injustice, intolerance and lack of respect, I get angry enough to write about how God is not tolerant of any of it, and I wonder why I have no fear to do so.

It is because I live in God’s world and among his people.

I write because I still can’t sing a note, but I am still the girl who joyously, thankfully belts out words on paper because I believe. 

I am no saint, I am not a zealot or a preacher, and ask my friends, I am a terrible listener. However, I do hear the whispers of the Lord who gave me a prayer to ease my fear, a song to tell me I am loved  and a father whose world sends me stories to write.