This is a true story. It’s a story about friendship and saying goodbye, and the songs and meanings that connect us. In this case, it’s “It Is Well With My Soul”. This is from my mom’s blog at PraiseNotes.com. She’s a piano teacher that specializes in teaching students over Skype and she loves the hymns. Enjoy!
My neighborhood is prone to adventures. I do not mean the stuff of storybooks, of exotic locales, of great deeds and daring, all with happy endings. No, not those kind of adventures, but the kind that a mind-your-own-business, busy-at-work, up-to-my-eyeballs-in-projects person would rather avoid. Adventures like the next door neighbor pounding on the door at two in the morning pleading for help because her boyfriend was threatening her life; an adventure like coming home to the street blocked off, SWAT teams patrolling around our home and neighborhood and the police helicopter circling overhead; an adventure like discovering the gate busted open by policemen chasing a fugitive who decided to make a quick escape through the backyard. Mind you, thanks be to the Lord, this did not all happen in one week, or month, or even year, but nevertheless, they are the kind of adventures that can unnerve and drive one to prayer.
And to prayer I did go. It was a simple prayer, but, believe me, very heartfelt: “Lord, please send me Christian neighbors.” God answered that prayer in an unforgettable way.
It began with a phone call from my former roommate from Bible college. “Kim, I just moved my parents to your city, and I think it might even be in your neighborhood. Where do you live?” I told her my street address. I was shocked to hear her say that she had moved her parents across the street two houses away from my home!
From that day on, a precious friendship began to grow with my new neighbor, Jane. Over the next short years we enjoyed: “tea time” (that always included prayer); sharing our concerns and hopes; playing the piano; sharing our favorite hymns. Her husband was also a dear friend. There were times I would look out my front window and see Rod working unbidden in our front yard, helping us in our feeble attempts at gardening. Jane and her husband eventually moved out of our neighborhood and relocated to a different state. We continued to stay in contact with one another and maintained a close friendship.
A few years later, I received another phone call; this time it was from Jane. “Hi, Kim, my husband and I flew in this morning, and we are here to visit family and friends to say good-bye. I have pancreatic cancer and the doctors have given me only a few weeks to live. Can I come over in an hour to see you?” As she spoke these words, my heart dropped with sorrow as I contemplated this coming loss. I was also anxious and feeling overwhelmed to see her on such short notice, not knowing what I should say or do when she arrived. I wanted to comfort them, but I was not sure how. When Jane and her husband arrived it was obvious what I needed to do. I asked what hymns were their favorites. As I played my piano, we sang the hymns that had inspired, comforted and taught them so much of the Savior’s love. We then prayed together for the last time. Singing the hymns filled our hearts with gratitude towards God, and we found relief for our suffering souls. When Jane left that day, she said good-bye and said that she would see me in heaven. We hugged and both shed tears as we knew we were ending a journey here on earth.
A few weeks later I played the piano at her memorial service. Though I didn’t know most of the people at her memorial service, we were one in Christ and sang together the hymn “It is Well with my Soul”.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
For thousands of years, the saints have passed from the church militant to the church triumphant surrounded by family, friends and pastors, who offer the comfort, first and foremost, of the Word of God, but also of singing the hymns of the faith—those songs that are so infused with poetry and doctrine that they, by the work of the Holy Spirit, give comfort and life, even to a dying soul. May the Lord in his mercy preserve these songs for the generations to come who will one day sing with my dear friend Jane, “It is well with my soul!”
A beginner piano arrangement of “It Is Well” is available in our online store.