A Man Named Horatio and a Guitar Named Billie

After months and months of looking and looking, I finally found my very own perfect guitar. I’d been mooching off generous friends all summer (which may or may not have turned into all autumn) and finally, finally I decided on the one I was going to call my mine.

She came in on Tuesday.
Yes, that Tuesday.
The Tuesday millions of people stayed up until Wednesday.
The Tuesday everyone decided to stop playing nice and start spewing ugly. The Tuesday when even pleads for peace and love somehow ended up sounding condescending.

There were a lot of feelings.
But I had a new, perfect, beautiful guitar named Billie.
So my feelings, obviously, were torn.
And no matter who was president or who wasn’t president, Billie and I had to create a set-list for worship on Sunday.

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This is Billie and I — only one photo of an entire photo shoot we did together with my phone’s self-timer. Ya know, in case you were wondering where I’m at socially…

Combine the infamous Tuesday with a handful of other things going on at work and in my brain (I am 100% running full speed towards a quarter-life crisis considering the amount of time I spend mulling over meaning and purpose and am I making the right choices and life seems so short all of a sudden and all that) and in the midst of all the insanity, “It is Well with My Soul” was stuck in my head in a very aggressive way.

“It is Well with My Soul” is a hymn written by Horatio Spafford.
In the span of a year, Horatio Spafford had lost his son to pneumonia and suffered a horrible loss to his business due to the infamous Chicago fire.
It was decided, understandably, that their family needed a vacation. Horatio sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to England while he finished up some last minute business in Chicago. Soon after, he received a shocking, heartbreaking telegram from his wife: “Saved alone.”
The ship his family was on had collided with another at sea. 226 of 313 passengers went down with it, including all four of Horatio’s daughters.

On the ship heading to England to join his wife, after the loss of his son, his business, and four daughters, Horatio penned the words to “It is Well with My Soul”:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

I’ve loved this song for a long time. I think Horatio and his wife’s story cause it to hold more weight than other songs, even the oldest, richest hymns. (It was also my all-time favorite Adventures in Odyssey episode, which is a fun fact one will only appreciate if you too were a child in the nineties born to a roadtrip-prone Christian family.)

We sang it at church Sunday morning. It felt special, and not just because of my sweet new guitar-friend Billie. Our church is full of all different kinds of people — people with different financial situations, different opinions on cultural events, different ages and races and home lives and we all bravely sang those words: it is well with my soul.

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The election is one thing. It is an impactful thing, effecting a lot of people in a lot of ways. But it is not the only thing. Every person in that church is dealing with the election and _____. We all have the election and ______ and _____ and a million other things. What is your thing?

For me, I’m dealing with uncertainty. I’m not sure what my future holds. The election and the structure of my job may be changing soon. The election and I live far away from my family and a hoard of beautiful friends. These things make me constantly question: What do I actually want in life and how am I supposed to start going for it? Do people just inherently know these things or are we supposed to just make decisions and hope for the best? Am I where I’m supposed to be? Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?
And I know my questions are minuscule compared to others’.

Yet with unrest and uncertainty of differing degrees, we all boldly sing those words “it is well with my soul,” because we know in our heads that “though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul,” and so help me we will feel the truth of those words in our hearts again too. Thankfully, “The Christian faith is different from other faiths. It has a different object — Jesus of Nazareth, and the God who he is and reveals. It originates not merely in the knowledge and emotion of human creature; it arises out of the Holy Spirit’s working upon the individual’s knowledge and emotion,” (Robert Kolb, The Christian Faith.)

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We know it even if we struggle to trust it. We cling to it even when we don’t see the evidence of it. It’s true even if we don’t currently feel it. No matter the circumstances, we sing and we pray and we love. We come together to celebrate and lament and lean on each other and point each other to the truth — that Jesus is everything. He paid everything. He loves us and He’s won us and through the work of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have to worry anymore.

It is well with my soul.

Written by

loves: good coffee paired with good music on a long roadtrip, conversations that get too personal too fast, any well-placed pun, and Jesus. Lots of Jesus.

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