The pianist strikes the opening chord and words appear on the overhead screen. My breath catches; my heart swells; tears of recognition sting my eyes.
This song is a portal to a place in time past—a place cemented in my mind. The place is unchanging as time pulls me farther and farther away. This is a place where my grandpa plays the piano in a little chapel amidst the pine trees. He plays for the sheer joy of it—all alone except for the audience of his God. Except I’m there too, drawn by the notes rising through the mountain morning air, but he doesn’t see me. Grandpa’s presence, especially Grandpa’s presence at the piano, seems as constant as the stars. It is no trouble at all for me to recall the words to the melodies he plays in his boisterous way. They come as naturally as the names of any of my boisterous family members. Those same family members sing every time we gather no matter the occasion. My past self sneaks in to listen. I am in college and possess all the vitality and curiosity of a young adult unsure of her future and simultaneously excited for it to arrive.
And now it has arrived. I stand among hundreds of women on a Monday night, in this future. We sing the familiar words and that is all it takes for me to be transported back in time through the portal of an unassuming hymn. Ambushed by the music, I’m powerless to stop the tears as they well up and roll down my face. Here I am, standing next to my daughter in this good future, marveling at the path I took to get here and grateful for the blessings generously strewn along the way. I look back on my past self with wistful tenderness. I ask her to hug Grandpa, to sit a minute longer in the back of that little chapel, receiving that timeless truth sent ahead to me by the song’s author and strengthened by those who entrusted it to me by repeating it often enough that I can sing it entirely from memory.
I carry the song forward into the future again. I look down at the blonde head of my daughter as she sings. I wonder, will it one day transport her as it did me?
I can’t read the future but I can sing the song and hope.
I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me he hath made known, nor why, unworthy, Christ in love, redeemed me for His own. But I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.