Monday Music: ‘When the battle’s over’

I have a standing gig at the Clearview Nursing Home. The residents like it because I bring my guitar and I like it because they never complain about my playing! Every Thursday morning we sing ‘I’ll fly away’ to start and ‘Amazing Grace’ to close and I am always blessed to hear them sing.

But something special happened last Thursday. I have been teaching through 1 Corinthians and we had been talking that morning about our future victory over death through faith in Christ (ch. 15). As usual, when we finished, we closed with ‘Amazing Grace.’ Only this time, when we finished that last verse acappella, one of the ladies began to sing this line: ‘When the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown.’ On the second time through the others joined with her. I am not overly familiar with that old hymn so I just listened as they sang:

“When the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown

When the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown

When the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown

In the New Jerusalem.”

They sang through the verse and the chorus together. Their voices are not as strong as they used to be, but they sang with power and conviction. And it was beautiful. Not just because of the song or the words but because of their belief. I could hear faith in the coming victory through Jesus in their voices. I could see it on their faces. I have rarely been so moved by a performance. It was everything I could do to keep from weeping in the floor. Even now, just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.

As a culture, we are enamored by big performances. Millions tuned in to watch the half-time festivities at the Super Bowl. Thousands pack stadiums and concert halls to hear the latest acts. Yet, the more I live, the more I am convinced that the greatest performances go largely unnoticed. I mean, who cares about some people singing at a nursing home? I can tell you One person who cares. I can see Him leaning in to take delight in their praise and smiling over their persevering faith. We should do our best to listen as well.

Each week the residents of Clearview Nursing Home teach me that faith can last a lifetime. Unlike these bodies we possess, it does not get old or wear out. On the contrary, it is stronger with each passing day and each passing year. Each week they remind me of that. And this past week they taught me even more. They taught me the beauty of enduring praise. I figure from now on, if someone asks me about my favorite concert, I will have to at least mention the time I got the privilege of hearing the impromptu performance of ‘When the battle’s over’ by the Clearview singers. What an encouragement to my soul!



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