The Founding Fathers of America are taking a real hit these days.
Woke fellow citizens (and perhaps even non-citizens) are taking shots at George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others because they were slave owners.
I guess I’m not much of an SJW. I don’t really care about the weaker points of men who I never knew and who lived two hundred or more years ago. I’m more interested in more practical modern things like health care.
If some of these folks get their way, our country’s heroes will have their reputations totally besmirched and they will be completely banished from our history.
Perhaps because of my disgust with the way things are going in the US, yesterday my thoughts turned toward a personal hero, not the guys who started a revolution in 1776. I’m referring to my maternal grandfather.
I was depressed yesterday for a lot of reasons. To mitigate the effects of my downer mood, I rested on my bed and listened to some hymns on YouTube.
As happens a lot when I am horizontal and try to listen to something, I began to snooze. I woke up to a stirring rendition of “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.” It was like an electrical charge surged through my bloodstream. “Let angels prostrate fall, let angels prostrate fall…”. I began to worship.
I decided to go back and listen to some of the songs I missed while I slumbered. The playlist tossed me a song I had never heard before called “The Wayside Cross.” The lyrics were sung by a male choir. The music was accompanied on YouTube by images of streams, forests and forked trails.
Which way shall I take shouts a voice in the night,
I’m a pilgrim awearied, and spent is my light;
And I seek for a palace, that rests on the hill,
But between us, a stream lieth sullen and chill.
Near, near thee, my son, is the old wayside cross,
Like a gray friar cowled, in lichens and moss;
And its crossbeam will point to the bright golden span,
That bridges the waters so safely for man;
That bridges the waters so safely for man.
I relished the old time descriptive language. My mind wandered back to my days of sharing the Gospel using an illustration called the Bridge to Life. It too used the cross of Jesus to reveal the way to life.
The lyrics also reminded me of the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken.”
To the right. To the left. Ah me–if I knew. The night is so dark and the passers are few.
Which way shall I take? I’m a stranger from home. And sin has enticed me and caused me to roam.
My fortune, my all, for one gleam of light, that will banish the darkness and lead me aright.
Another hymn called “I Know Who I Have Believed” came next. It took me back to some of my roots in a church I attended when I graduated from college. This song was a standard there.
Soon I understood where I got my desire to listen to these old hymns. It was some lyrics from a couple of songs on the playlist that told me.
He took my burdens all away up to a brighter day. He gave me a song, a wonderful song.
God never moves without purpose or plan
When trying His servant or molding a man.
Give thanks to the Lord though your testing seems long
In darkness He giveth a song.
These lyricists of course are referring to God as the giver of songs. But to me, He used my grandfather to convey them to me.
Willie H. Ball was a coal miner in the hills of West Virginia. He would come home from work covered in black dust.
Grandpa Ball was a wonderful man. He had a great sense of humor. For example,we youthful visitors to his home would be the recipient of a prank he liked to pull. While we were sleeping he would sneak up with a small disc that would emit a cow’s “moo” when turned over.
Willie was also a song leader in his back country Methodist church. At home, he constantly played the Gospel music he had taped using old reel to reel recorders.
His funeral was the most meaningful one I have ever attended. The service was mainly (by his request) one filled with Christian music.
Willie Ball lived what he preached. This is why my unbelieving father called him the best man he had ever known.
I still have a tangible treasure from him. Once he sent me a cassette with some Christian music on it. Grandpa Ball had recorded it for me. His voice introduces the songs to come.
An even greater gift, however, was his legacy. He did leave me a song, one which communicates his faith in Jesus Christ and his worship of God via music.
As I lay in my bed I thought of my coal miner grandfather’s legacy. His life and its impact on me speaks of the lyrics of the old hymn “Faith of our Fathers.”
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
And blest would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them should die for thee:
Faith of our fathers! holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death!
I know Willie Ball is in heaven cheering me on. Because of him, I have a solid family history to lean on. Because of him, I am not giving up on leaving my own decent legacy before I depart this difficult life.
Grandpa Ball is my real founding father. In the whole scheme of things, in my universe at least, America’s don’t matter as much.