“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you…Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God” (James 4:1, 4-7).
Some 42 years ago, a scrawny trumpet player found himself marching beside a cute little piccolo player. God’s providence brought Wendy and me together those many years ago, and we have been blessed in our marriage together (it will be 40 years on November 27th) with three wonderful children along with their spouses, seven beautiful grandchildren (one we’ll meet in the new heavens and new earth, and one we’ll get to meet early next spring).
Marching band was our life for many years, so it was fitting that we should meet on the football field. And like any good marching band, there are certain high points that punctuate the entirety of the show. One of those points came about six years ago when we traveled back to Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) for a marching band reunion. This was a dress rehearsal for the 100th anniversary celebration to be held in 2021 (as we all know, Covid had a profound impact on all our lives, so the 100th anniversary was held this past weekend).
It was a joy to reconnect with friends from long ago and rekindle and deepen those relationships, plus add a few new friends for good measure. We scaled that summit together and it was a breathtaking adventure together. Our time in marching band together at IUP was punctuated by a performance with the current band. There were over 500 students and alumni on the field together, from end zone to end zone, and sideline to sideline. And there was one very significant piece of music that bound us all together.
During the 1981 season, the band introduced a song that would come to define this marching band over the past 40+ years. That song was Amazing Grace. I remember the very first time we played it together. It is a soaring rendition of John Newton’s hymn. What I didn’t know at the time was that it would be played after every football game and performance every following year. So, on Saturday after the football game, fighting through tears of joy, that 500+ band played Amazing Grace together.
As followers of Christ, God’s grace has had a profound impact on our lives. That grace “saved a wretch like me…, that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” And it is that grace that “has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
God’s grace that has come to us by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a continuing grace, a bottomless well of sustaining grace to carry us through each day of our lives here on earth, and it is that grace that will cause us to “sing God’s praise” for all eternity. What a joy to know THIS grace! So won’t you seek the “fount of every blessing” and ask the giver of grace to “tune my heart to sing thy grace.” His is a sustaining grace that will carry us home!