My reader and now online friend, Kathleen Heseltine, sent me this hymn excerpt tonight in a Facebook message. She has been a consistent encouragement to me during this transplant journey of mine. As soon as I started reading these familiar words, I heard a congregation singing loudly in my mind. Of course, I joined in.
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
I don’t know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.
And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand…
As I sang along in my head, memories of camp meetings, church meetings and revivals flooded my mind. I saw ladies fanning themselves with folded bulletin programs. I saw old guys in their suits and ties drenched with summer sweat singing at the top of their lungs. I saw Millie sitting at the piano concentrating on every note. I remember poking fun at the soloist’s glasses, clothes or mannerisms. I remember chuckling with the other teenagers at the old music and old people.
We went to evening services every night and heard the same songs over and over. We listened to a fat preacher stomping around hollering at mostly us. (Afterall, it was “youth camp.”) We never saw one of the old farts go forward. We mostly figured they all knew Jesus already and probably hung out with him when they were kids.
Night after night, “I don’t know about tomorrow…” sung in deep tones. Night after night. I started to like the old songs. I started trying, in my cracking pubescent voice, to sing along.
This early morning, lying sleepless on a couch again, I read those familiar words. Comforting words. Truth. They took me back for a few moments but then back to the present where the thought came to me, “this verse is me, my life.”
Today, well on my way to being one of those “old farts” that kids laugh at, I understand why those congregations sang so loudly. They were gladly celebrating the truth they had experienced. They were proclaiming, reminding and encouraging. Old people have a lot of pains, heartaches and their time on earth is growing short. Those rooms full of Old Spice and cheap perfumes were a living testimony to God’s faithfulness. They sang the story of their faith and sang it loud.
Looking back, it truly was a beautiful, powerful sound.
I know who holds tomorrow. Do you?