I was sitting in my study working on a project a couple weeks ago when the secretary put a call through from the hospital chaplain. There was a family in need. I man had died. The family had recently relocated here from the south. They were requesting a Baptist preacher. I drove to the hospital and met the family. A widow of about twenty minutes was trying to say good-bye to her husband.
I prayed with her and talked with her about spiritual things for a while. She seemed comforted. I helped her along in the decisions she would have to make over the next few days.
Finally I said good-bye, left her with my card and drove home. I had a renewed love for life and a desire to see my family before returning to the study.
The next day a got a call from a pastor friend in a nearby village. He was doing the funeral and wondered if I knew anyone who could provide music. I asked the pastor to put the widow on the phone. She said her husband had loved music but they knew no one in the area. I said we would help. The songs she named were songs our family commonly sings together. She said they liked the guitar. I told her that we often sang with the guitar.
I asked what kind of music she wanted and she said her husband loved to play the harmonica, but she didn’t know anyone who could do that. She said it is a lost art and they would have to do without the harmonica.
The day of the funeral I took the older girls and we took a pleasant drive north to Hesperia. After we sang I surprised the family. I asked them to bow their heads and drew a harmonica from my pocket and played a simple version of Amazing Grace. There was weeping all across the room. The girls and I slipped quietly away and drove home satisfied that we were able to comfort a family in their grief and reinforce a cherished memory for them.
Last Wednesday I was called to the hospital again. This time in Muskegon. Another death. Mr. Henry Olman. We stood at Mr. Olman’s side and prayed. His granddaughter said; “I had to have one of his harmonicas. I have such sweet memories of him playing the harmonica.” His son-in-law looked at me and said; “He plays the harmonica.”
Mr. Olman was buried on a beautiful fall day. We were nearing the end of autumn, but it was a warm, glorious, sunny afternoon. When the family gathered I did my best to do honor the memory of the man, point his family to Christ and remind them of eternal things. At the close of the service I drew the harmonica from my pocket and quietly played Amazing Grace.
The weeping was a testimony to the fact that Mr. Olman was loved by his family.
Some people say God doesn’t care about little details. I will never believe that. I serve a God who arranges harmonica-playing preachers for grieving families.