". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

Today in church we sang, "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say," Lutheran Service Book 699.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
  “Come unto Me, and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
  Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was,
  So weary, worn, and sad;
I found in Him a resting place,
  And He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
  “Behold, I freely give
The living water: thirsty one,
  Stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
  Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
  And now I live in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
  “I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,
  And all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
  In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk
  Till trav’ling days are done. (Horatius Bonar, 1808-89)

I think it was the first time for this congregation to sing this hymn. I heard a gentleman behind me say that he didn't know it but that he thought it was really nice. It has been one of my favorites for a while now. Three years ago yesterday, I sang it to my mom (Barbara) in the nursing home. It was just a few days before she came home for hospice care. Today I went back and found an old email that I had written to a friend at the time who was offering a virtual shoulder and ear.  It reminded me of a few things I had forgotten.

It is a rollercoaster. This morning I woke up at 4:30, couldn't go back to sleep, so went on over to the nursing home. When I saw her I thought it could be today. She just looked so drawn. :( I prayed Morning Prayer, read Romans 8, sang Jesus Loves Me and I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say, and cried all over her. And then the nurse came in to give her her pills and I told the nurse she wouldn't be able to swallow those and then she did, the stinker. :-) I was there much of the day and siblings were calling (yay) but she isn't able to talk much. She will say hello and say "I love you" when told "I love you" so we do a lot of that. :-) She did ask me repeatedly today to take her to California. I didn't know what to make of that but one of my brothers said that maybe she's remembering a time when she was still married to her first husband with her six babies and they lived in a pretty nice place in a very pretty part of California (I am not sure where). Tonight after choir I took Evan over with me to tell her goodnight and pray with her and she seemed so much more herself. She asked me, "What's this all about?" meaning, I guess, why am I in this place with all these people around. And I tried to explain why she was where she was. There are these little flashes of clarity and I think maybe we're gonna get her back. The problem is that she only weighs 74 pounds. She is too thin for an IV. So she is only getting what she can get in through her mouth. :-( :-( :-( I hated leaving tonight because I'm afraid there's going to be less of her in the morning when I go back. 

They were such hard days, but also beautiful in the way they distilled each moment, bringing into focus what was important and what was not. Less than a week after I wrote the above, my mom died in her room in our house. My husband, youngest son, and I were with her. The next day I wrote the same friend again. She had asked about sending me something to read since I was in vigil mode.

I was going to write back this morning and say yes, please send it, but last night my mama went home to Jesus and my eyes are not good for much right now. Thank you for being on call for me. It was a blessed end and I will be forever grateful for the gift of these three days with her at home and that I was able to tell what was going on to the extent that I called Phillip and Evan to her bedside and we were able to sing and pray over her in her final minutes. Well, they sang. I held her hands and felt their last squeezes this side of heaven. The strife is o'er, the battle done.   

Our former pastor's wife sang "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say" as it is in LSB, to the tune SARAH-ELIZABETH, as the Prelude at my mom's funeral. When we got home from church today I went looking for a video I thought I had of her singing it when we were first teaching it to the congregation in Oklahoma, but I can't find it. She sang it so beautifully. It's still her voice I hear in my head when I try to sing this hymn today. 

Bianca, if you're reading, maybe the next time we see each other (this summer???) you can sing it, Phil can play, and I can record it so I can have it for listening in the future because I don't know if I'll ever be able to sing it again myself. Well, maybe in heaven, when my mom is there to help.