Last September, I shared about the significance of the song, It Is Well With My Soul, in our family’s life. So I shouldn’t have been surprised today when I got a phone call from Grant, telling me the church he attended (Cornerstone Baptist Church) sang It Is Well during the worship service this morning. He was in Detroit for the weekend and today is the Sunday following the anniversary of his dad’s death (27 years ago). I also shouldn’t have been surprised when Grant’s mom, Susan, sent us a text late last night telling us they had sung it in church in Texas. Every year, around the anniversary of Grant’s dad’s death, It Is Well is sung in church. And every year, it takes me by surprise. Today, the Lord showed us once again that he is a Father to the fatherless, He never forgets, and that no matter where we are, He is there.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation.” – Psalm 68:5
Here is what I wrote last September:
It was August of 1986. The words above were the opening line of the last letter Grant’s dad, Kelly, wrote to his wife, Susan. It was just a couple weeks before his tragic plane crash. Kelly wrote the letter from California while attending a Marine Corps training exercise. When Grant’s mom read Kelly’s letter, she thought it unusual that he started the letter with the words to a hymn but for some reason she tucked the letter in a safe place, not fully knowing how much she would come to treasure it. After Kelly’s death, Susan clung to Kelly’s words in her grief, knowing that Kelly’s soul was with the Lord.
It was as if Kelly knew she would need to read those words one day. And when Kelly’s body was lost at sea, Susan was reminded that even though her sorrow was as the sea billows roll, her husband’s soul was with God.
It Is Well With My Soul was sung at Kelly’s memorial service and over the years, it has comforted Grant around the anniversary of his dad’s death. “It’s crazy,” Susan told me, “but almost every time Kelly’s anniversary has fallen on a Sunday we have sung It Is Well in church.”
Right after Grant and I were married, Kelly’s anniversary fell on a Sunday. We were in Texas visiting Grant’s family. It Is Well was sung during Sunday morning worship. The tears just streamed down our faces as we felt God’s presence there with us.
Today marks the 26th anniversary of Kelly’s death. It’s crazy to think that this year Kelly will have been dead as long as he lived (he was 26 when he died). In the past 26 years of Grant’s life, God has been incredibly faithful.
God has showed His faithfulness in so many ways and through so many people. Grant and I were reminded of God’s care today as we remembered Kelly’s death along with his parents who are visiting us.
I stayed home from church today with Evangeline. I received a text message from Grant while he was in church:
They played It Is Well in church. Daddy’s favorite song.
I sent my mom a text a little later telling her that today marked the 26th anniversary. I told her about the song.
She wrote back one word:
I knew what she meant. She meant that God is sovereign. That nothing happens outside of His sovereign hand. It Is Well wasn’t sung in church by chance. God knew today marks the anniversary of Kelly’s death. He hadn’t forgotten the significance of this day in Grant’s life.
Mom sent me another text a little later:
Dad quoted a verse from It Is Well in his sermon this morning. Then we sang it at the end of the service. So if y’all had not moved, it would have been sung no matter what.
My dad didn’t remember that today was the anniversary, but the Lord did. As Grant and I reflect on Kelly’s legacy today, we are abundantly thankful that we have a God who cares about us deeply and a God who remembers.
While this life is fragile, our souls have an anchor. Through His redemption, we can say confidently as Kelly once did, “It is well with my soul.”