Dad wanted his funeral service to feel like you were going to church on Sunday morning. He wanted music and singing, scripture reading, prayer, and a full sermon on the Cross of Christ and the hope of the Resurrection. The only thing that dad did not request was an offering:)
He wanted me to preach the sermon, but before that, he wanted me to begin the worship service with some of his favorite songs on the piano. This video clip catches the last two songs of a medley that I put together for him: Unseen Hand and It is Well with My Soul. Several began to sing the words as I played. This was worship of our Living God. This is God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
In the brief time that my parents lived in Ashland, Ohio from 1963-69, they met J. B. and Barb Spencer and their three children, a bluegrass gospel singing family. I met the Spencers for the first time in 1974 at Calvary Baptist Church, where my dad was preaching. Dad had invited them down to sing on Sunday. J. B. wrote a song called “Unseen Hand.” I can still hear Mrs. Spencer singing the verses and her husband and children joining her on the chorus. Here are the original lyrics:
There is an unseen Hand to me
That leads through ways I cannot see.
While going through this world of woe
His Hand still leads me as I go.
chorus I’m trusting to the Unseen Hand
That guides me through this weary land.
And some sweet day I’ll reach that strand
Still guided by the Unseen Hand.
His hand has led through shadows drear
And while it leads I have no fear.
I know twill lead me to that home
Where sin nor sorrow ere can come.
I long to see my Savior’s face
And sing the story saved by grace.
And there upon that golden strand
I’ll praise him for his guiding hand.
I can’t read those words and restrain the emotion that fills my heart over what is true about my God – He is graciously governing my whole life as he did his own sons life. I do not feel paralyzed or threatened by this, but rather, I say and feel with David,
“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you”
What truth about God would give rise to such joyful expression of confidence?
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” (vss. 13-16).
The result of such profound insights about God did not fill David with either bitterness or indifference, which is often what happens when we come face-to-face with a Sovereign God. We’re not sure if we can trust him, and since we cannot see the full measure of his handiwork all at once, we question the artist’s wisdom. It is not sinful or uncommon to pray for relief and ask why, Jesus did. But like Jesus, we also submit to him who exalted the suffering servant and proved that the cross “is the wisdom and power of God” (1 Cor. 1:24, 25).
The goal of all theology (the study of God), is doxology (joyful praise to God). My trust is in the LORD – the Maker of heaven and earth. I don’t understand very much about God but O how I enjoy Him. Look to Christ and see the Wisdom of God. Look at Christ’s suffering and see the love and justice of God. Look to Christ and see the Righteousness of God. Look to Christ and see that God will one day, because it is written in his book, lead you in the way that is everlasting. All my joy and praise flows to the God whose hand is wonderfully and painfully bringing to pass all my days before there were any.
Below is a beautiful rendition of the song with slight word changes. May you be encouraged today!