A Wednesday Night Song, an Old/New Book, and Stewarding the Story...

I love summer choir.  Actually, I love choir all the time, and each season has something special to offer.  But there is a bit of a lower-key element to summer, usually singing lots of  "old favorites"  while learning some new pieces as well, that is just a bit different than the rest of the year.  Tonight we sang several "oldies", one of which brought back some *really* old memories....

The first time I remember hearing "My Tribute" was at the funeral of Dana Mize.  It was 1976.  I was 7 years old and attending my first memorial service.  Dana was a 12 year old girl in our church who had been kidnapped and murdered.  Her death shook our church and the entire community, and it was my first exposure to violent crime.  

I have vivid memories of her memorial service.  The crowd was huge, filling our large church sanctuary and spilling outside.  I sat with my mom and a friend in our "usual spot" near the front, piano side.  My dad was in the choir, which opened the service with what has been one of my favorite hymns ever since, "O, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus", and closed it with the Hallelujah Chorus.  Although there were many tears, Dana's service wasn't one of sadness; even as a child, I was overwhelmed by the way that God was glorified and praised through it all.  I've thought of that service many times in the years since.  

Dana's uncle sang the song "My Tribute".  That was the first time I remember hearing it, and I will always associate it with her memorial service.  It will always be a reminder of Dana's family and their strong faith, and of God's faithfulness to them and to our church during that time.  

Three years later, Dana's mother, Jean Mize, wrote a book about their experiences, Night of Anguish, Morning of Hope.  I read it several  times during my pre-teen and teen years and was impacted greatly by her testimony of God's faithfulness to them throughout their ordeal.   I remember thinking that I couldn't imagine anything worse than one's child being the victim of a violent crime.  I had no idea that years later I would be one of those parents, although our story would be much different than the Mize's.  

I had long since lost track of my copy of Mrs. Mize's little book, but many times during the last five years, I've remembered something that she said in it, or something from Dana's funeral, that has encouraged me at just the right time.  Just weeks ago, I vaguely remembered something from the book and began wishing that I could read it again.  As is my usual response when I have a thought like that, I searched for the book on Amazon, hoping they might have a very old, very cheap copy I might buy.  There were indeed several cheap copies of the little orange book I remembered, but I was amazed to discover that the book was re-published earlier this year with the original content plus an update on the intervening years and some additional materials that weren't part of the first book.  And not only that, but it was available for Kindle!  I rarely pay for Kindle books, as I have enough free ones to keep me busy for a long, long time, but this one was well worth its $7.69 purchase price.  

I cried my way through the book in just a couple of days, remembering much of what I read either from the actual happenings or from past readings of the book, but also also relating to so much of what she said as a parent; although our situations were very different, many of the emotions and the things God taught us were very similar.  

I hope to share more from the book in another post...I've been planning to review it ever since I read the new edition, but the intervening weeks have been a bit full. :)  However, I want to close with part of the message from Dana's memorial service, given by my childhood pastor, Bro. Bill Probasco...

"And moreover, He would use Satan's evil rage to Satan's disadvantage.  The entire affair would have the effect of calling attention to the grace and glory of Jesus Christ by showing that His grace is greater than sin and His power greater than death.  This nightmarish ordeal will be used to call attention, as sure as God is living, to His undeserved grace and bring many to heed His loving call." 

I've been thinking a lot lately about Mary Beth Chapman's words about "stewarding our story well".  The Mize family has stewarded theirs well and they continue to over 30 years later.  We all have a story...His story, unfolding in us.   Some stories are more dramatic than others.  Some, like the Mizes' and the Chapmans', are tragic.  Some are stories of great weariness, some of very obvious victory.  Some, like ours, have plot twists that we never in a million years would have expected.  Regardless, God has promised that for all who are His children, to those "elect exiles" who are called according to His purpose, every element is working together for our good, and for His glory.  I am so thankful for that promise.  I am so thankful for the people God has put in my life from my youngest years to show His faithfulness and prepare me for what has come so far and is still to come.

God is still using Dana's story and that of her family "to call attention, as sure as God is living, to His undeserved grace and bring many to heed His loving call" and to "have the effect of calling attention to the grace and glory of Jesus Christ".   That is my heart cry about our story as well...that God would use it to call attention to His grace and glory, to bring many to heed His loving call, and to encourage those who are going through their own "nights of anguish".

My Tribute, To God Be the Glory   
How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me? 
Things so undeserved, yet you gave to prove Your love for me, 
The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude, 
All that I am and ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee!
 To God be the glory, to God be the glory 
To God be the glory For the things He has done. 
With His blood He has saved me, 
With His power He has raised me, 
To God be the glory for the things He has done.
 Just let me live my life, Let it be pleasing, Lord, to Thee, 
And should I gain any praise, Let it go to Calvary.
 To God be the glory for the things He has done. 
~Andrae Crouch


t marie said...

Just the words I needed to hear. Thank you.

Jennifer said...

Big hugs, T...I love you!