The Song that Made Them Stand

by Laura on June 2, 2011

Enjoy this re-posting from the archives about how the rolling of my eyes in church one day led to tears in those same very eyes during the singing of a certain song.  And I’m not one to cry-much.  Originally written October 2010.

So I’ve been honest about my church snobbery in the past {and all its negative fallout, of course}, but today I had the gift of watching what brought the Sunday crowd to its feet.

And it wasn’t the praise chorus that I had sung at InterVarsity in college, now sung by a group of expats on foreign soil. And it wasn’t the excellent sermon on the faith of Abraham.  It wasn’t the song about God’s beauty or the one about our need to worship him.

It was a hymn– an old tune my own mama used to sing to us and one we’d sung in the church-of-my-roots in North Carolina.  It’s a song largely forgotten by the post-modernish church culture Matt and I gravitate towards; its the kind of song with 16 verses and words that remind you of Old England.

This morning, though, I remembered the goodness of those who’ve gone before, because when the first notes of Great is Thy Faithfulness began to play, the seasoned warriors rose to their feet–

unprompted, spontaneous, unified.

I looked around as these veterans of the mission field declared to God, together, “All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided,”

and I cried for the power of it.

Because these older, wiser souls had left home and family before the convenience of Skype and email.  These men and women have hacked out a life overseas, and have stuck– for years, not just months.  They have lived in the real jungles and have said many more goodbyes than these lips have uttered.  They have been weathered by the winds and fires of a life-laid-down and have tasted Stranger over, and over, and over again.

I felt like I was a child among giants.

And I was reminded, by the simultaneous rising, that the song that made them stand,

is a Truth that has enable them to.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God My Father.

There is no shadow of turning with Thee.

Thou Changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.

As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness.

Morning by morning, New mercies I see.

All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”


Have a story of God not letting you down you’d like to share?  Or, have any thoughts about something you’ve learned from an older person’s example?


  • Marla Taviano

    Girl, I’m praying about sponsoring one of those sweet little orphans. I’m pretty sure when God grabs my heart like that he’s saying, “Do it.” And I would looooooove to visit someday and meet her. And YOU.

  • Kelly @ Love Well

    It’s beautiful when our eyes are opened, isn’t it? The scales fall off and we see around us Giants of the Faith, who moments ago looked like mortals. It’s our own Hebrews 11.

    My own story of God not letting me down, of God taking evil and turning it for good, of God redeeming and restoring far beyond I ever imagined is not my story to tell. Let’s just say: I’m married to a man who was orphaned and grew up on the streets. You might say he has some deep wounds that have spilled over onto us.

    But because of God’s faithfulness, I sing that song today with a power and faith I never knew before. Great is Thy Faithfulness.

    • Laura

      Kelly, I love who you compared us being surrounded by the giants of spirituality/character/experience as our “own hebrews 11.”

      And, man, I just can not begin to imagine your own story as it intertwines with your husbands. Have you written about that on your blog? Perhaps I need to go do some hunting over there to read it, because I totally believe THAT is a story worth learning from.

      love and respect from here,

  • Amy Sullivan

    Isn’t there something profound about singing a song that you know so many have cried out before you? Although I would never want to just sing hymns, they do stir something deep inside of me.

  • Tamara

    Oh, I’m crying now reading the words. I love the praise hymns at WPCC but it IS the hymns that make me weep until my cheeks and neck are wet and gooey. And I’m ok with that bc it takes me back to that place where I grew up with giants of faith.
    Ah, my stories of God not letting me down? More stories than I know, for sure as He’s NEVER let me down. Not when tragedy took from our family, not when illness struck, not when I THOUGHT he was letting me down, not ever. His had hath provided . . . comfort, peace, rest, and also joy in the midst.
    “Giants” are all around us whether they are our Biblical heroes or plain folk who are older and wise or younger and wise.
    Love what’s behind your words, girl!!!
    Hugs from here . . .

    • Laura

      Yes, I agree, there is something profoundly powerful in the depth of some of those old songs. It connects us somehow with roots, maybe we didn’t even know we had, or didn’t perhaps value. I hate that the further we go away from that time period, the more “advanced” we get, perhaps the more we lose in the way of connecting with our roots, like these.

      And thanks for sharing your own stories of God’s faithfulness. Encouraging, to say the least.


  • desiray

    those hymns always stir me up our church dont’ sing many of them but when they do it touches my spirit so much that the tears fall from my eyes and I am not even sure as to why I am crying. But what a cleansing I get from it. Thank you Jesus

    • Laura

      Desiray, Yeah, I agree. There is something deeply profound that touches us with some of those old songs. I wonder if its the faith, in part, of the people that wrote them or have sung them before us?

  • amy

    I can still see Mom standing up at church and hear her singing it too. Can’t you? Love you

    • Laura

      Amy, Yes, I remember her standing and singing loud this one and “It is Well” –even at dad’s funeral.

      Oh, and “Joy to the World” at Christmas.

      Somehow I’m not sure that my own kids remembering me sing Glee’s version of “Don’t Stop Believing” is as powerful . . .

      well, I don’t know . . ..

      Ha ha.

  • Julie

    Beautiful, encouraging testimony my friend.
    More than anything what has surfaced during this season of devastating loss is His faithfulness…no matter my level of faithlessness.
    Being challenged in a study right now to move past the devastation. I realize that in order to do that I must lift my eyes to focus on the Faithful One…instead of myself.

    “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” 2Sam. 7:18

    Great is His Faithfulness. Indeed!

    • Laura

      Friend, Thanks for giving credence to what they did–that the storms can’t change the Rock. I know that you KNOW that, and I know that that knowledge has come with tears and great loss that I can’t even imagine. Thanks for clinging, still.

      Love you, and know the work being done is somehow deeply good,

  • amy

    Well I’m sure they will be talking about our battlefield rendition in the exact same about memorable

  • Betsy

    I just stumbled across your blog today. This post spoke to me. We had a similar experience in church about six months ago. We were all going through to usual church motions and then for some reason in our fairly modern church, we sang Great is Thy Faithfulness. And it brought us to our feet, literally and spiritually. Can’t wait to read more of your posts!

    • Laura

      Wow, Betsy. What a cool story! What is it about that song–or more importantly–THAT message that resonates with so many, from so many different walks of life? Reckon we should slow down and pay attention to its message, eh?

      Thanks for stopping in, new friend,

  • Mary Lee Moritz

    Beautiful, Laura! Music is the common language of the world—so blessed to see God use such a moment to bless your heart, by helping you see theirs.

  • Warren Baldwin

    Linked from Amy’s blog.

    Good post. We sing many of the newer praise songs at church, but sometimes the old ones still resonate in fresh ways. I liked this post.

  • Diana Trautwein

    This is exactly why I love a blended worship service – space for both old chestnuts and new nuggets. And yes, there is something in particular about this song that really resonates – as a pastor, I did a lot of memorial services where this hymn was on the list to be sung, even in families where the loved one was younger than 50! Thanks for your continuing honest reflection on this blog.

  • Jeremy McKemy

    Awesome blog, Laura. I pray I have the humility to notice the giants around me as well. Kind of reminds me of that other blog about those who are least in the Kingdom.

    I have a story of “God not letting me down” that happened yesterday.

    My wife and I have been concerned about our finances since our primary financial revenue comes from her shop and this past weekend we found out a large retailer has copied one of her designs and is selling it for half of the price.

    The night before last I had a dream about not having enough, and I woke up knowing that I needed to give it back up to God (again).

    Yesterday morning when I went to work for my 4am shift, I realized I forgot to pack a snack (they only work me part-time so I don’t get a lunch break, just a short snack break — and there’s only so much I can eat at 3am). I was bummed about having to go hungry, but I had a pleasant surprise. One of the managers had gone out to McDonalds and picked me (and a few other people) up some breakfast food, which has never happened there before.

    As I was driving home I felt God telling me that he did that so I would know that he will take care of us and provide for our needs.

    From the outside, it may seem like something small, but it was definitely the right message at the right time.

    • Laura

      Jeremy, I love this story. I love that you took the time to share it, too, because I think one of the biggest things about we humans is that we forget to REMEMBER the ways God has showed up in our lives. We forget and then we start doubting again.

      Thanks for recording for the rest of us, and for yourself again, that God provides– even in the form of a McMuffin.

  • @ngie

    This post was written and reposted on this very day just for me. Thought you might like to know that. :)

    • Laura

      I’m glad you told me friend. And even glader that the timing was just right.

      Love how that works out sometimes . . .

  • Lisa L.

    Laura, you make me smile and make my head nod every time I read what you write!

    Fellow eye-roller here who God so mercifully surprises with truth. It’s humbling. But I’m so grateful.

    I remember visiting a ministry in Poland with my husband. Going, I thought I was doing you know, pretty well in my walk and growth. And then I talked with the two pioneers of the mission and literally had the sense, I’d thought I was a tree. But then I got around a couple of OAKS. And I realized, I am just a branch on the ground. I’ll never forget that. God is so good at helping us see what we need to see.

    I know this is long – sorry! – but I want to quickly share something that really struck me from the Boundaries book:

    “People who are growing… are drawn to individuals who bear battle scars, worry furrows, and tear marks on their faces. Their lessons can be trusted, much more than the unlined faces of those who have never failed – and so have never lived.”

    • Laura

      Hey there,” Fellow-Eye-Roller” :) ,

      I love your story about thinking you were a tree, rubbing shoulders with oaks, and seeing your own “branchiness”. That is a beautiful picture! Totally can relate.

      And loved the quote, too. Seriously, Lisa, thanks for giving that to us.

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  • Connie R.

    Truly God’s faithfulness is so great! His faithfulness helps us  overcome all trials while doing our mission for His glory. 

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