How Great Thou Art

Dearest Rachel –

So, this morning was the final session for the weekend’s retreat. Luke drove us up a hill (because the YMCA of the Rockies is an absolutely vast campus – we’d never have time to walk to the place), and delivered his message with this behind him:

With the backdrop such as it is, I often find myself thinking about the words to that old Swedish hymn that we sang at our wedding service, “How Great Thou Art:”

Oh Lord, my God, when I, in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

It’s a song that comes to mind whenever I find myself in the midst of the most awesome nature. And where in nature are there more awesome sights than from a mountain nearly ten thousand feet above sea level?

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

I told the others about this song; about the unwitting trick we played on our wedding party (because who doesn’t know this hymn, after all?), and about that time when Promise Keepers met at Soldier Field. Sixty thousand men singing this song as one; I recall Dad saying how this was how he imagined heaven sounding like.

I wish I could hear from you about whether or not this was true. What songs do they sing to Him up there?

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

It’s no secret among the others about the significance of this day to me. If nothing else, several of them were aware of my putting the final touches on my earlier letter to you; including snippets of the video I’d attached, and my commentary thereupon.

After Luke spoke about Barnabas, the relatively obscure character without whom there would be no Paul, no Mark – indeed, well over half the New Testament – but who my Dad has patterned his life after (the ‘son of encouragement,’ along with David, the ‘man after God’s own heart’), we drove back down to the lodge one last time, and everyone broke into the first verse of the song in your honor.

I tried to join in, honey, heaven knows. I could get in a few bars here and there, but I simply couldn’t keep from breaking down. These guys hardly know me, but this tribute to you – and Him – cannot help but move me.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration
And then proclaim, “my God, how great Thou art!”

The last thing we did back at the lodge was to pray for and anoint each other. I’ve never participated in such a ceremony before. Each of us offered a specific request to be prayed for, and another of us would dab a bit of oil on the requester’s forehead and pray for that request, which Luke would then add to. Generally, it was only the two who would stand over and pray, but when it was my turn, I was surrounded by everyone else.

For what it’s worth, I may have gotten a little selfish and put in two requests – one for guidance in dealing with Daniel, and another for finding “Megumi,” assuming she exists (or if not, that He would let me know, so I don’t waste my time looking for her if she’s nowhere to be found). I figured that, if everyone was going to get in on the act, I would ask for a little bit more. Frankly, I think I might need it.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

One day I will find out if they sing this song where you are. One day, the eleven of us will meet again up there (if not down here at any point), and I will do my level best to remember and introduce you to them.

But most importantly, one day I will stand before Him and thank Him for adopting me into His family, and allowing me to inherit all of the treasures of His heaven with His Son.

My God, how great You are, and were, and shall be evermore!

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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