I Forget I Remember

Funny how often I forget that I remember something. It happened again this morning when I happened back upon a hymn that elicited emotions so powerful that I was physically affected (I discreetly wept). By the way, hymns are those archaic forms of teaching theology and establishing core values embedded in mnemonic tunes that once graced the worship of God’s people, more recently displaced by trendy lyrics repeated ad infinitum set to pop melodies. But I digress….

I had forgotten that I remember the moving text of, “My lord is near me all the time.” From the first line, this hymn composed by Barbara Fowler Gaultney awakened deeply embedded childhood memories. One moment I was standing on aching knees downing cup number two of my morning wake up call; the next I was transported back to Trinity Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas, sitting as a boy on curved plywood theater seats that were fastened to an asbestos tile floor. Men wore polyester suits with wide ties, women were in knit dresses and panty hose, and choir members wrapped in blue lustrous robes with gold satin stoles belted out:

“When the thunder shakes the mighty hills
And trembles ev’ry tree,
Then I know a God so great and strong
Can surely harbor me.”

More than anything else I remember God’s closeness. Years later, I read the works of Francis Schaefer who liked to speak of the “God who is there.” I do not disagree with his theology, but more than ever I cling to the memory that God is near, and am increasingly reliant upon the present reality of a God who is here. I had forgotten that I remember just how much I need a loving Father to embrace and harbor me.

In the lightning flash across the sky
His mighty pow’r I see,
And I know if He can reign on high,
His light can shine on me.

I’ve seen it in the lightning, heard it in the thunder,
And felt it in the rain;
My Lord is near me all the time,
My Lord is near me all the time.

When the thunder shakes the mighty hills
And trembles ev’ry tree,
Then I know a God so great and strong
Can surely harbor me.

I’ve seen it in the lightning, heard it in the thunder,
And felt it in the rain;
My Lord is near me all the time,
My Lord is near me all the time.

When refreshing showers cool the earth
And sweep across the sea,
Then His rainbow shines within my heart,
His nearness comforts me.

I’ve seen it in the lightning, heard it in the thunder,
And felt it in the rain;
My Lord is near me all the time,
My Lord is near me all the time.

(“My Lord Is Near Me All the Time”, words and music by Barbara Fowler Gaultney)

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