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A Hymn to Lead Us Home

Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have mercy on His afflicted.—ISAIAH 49:13 [NKJV]

I was leaving a memory care facility where I worked as a therapeutic musician when one of the residents darted through the door just as I opened it. He rushed out, heading toward the street.

“Mr. Johnson!” I shouted frantically. “Come back!” I ran after him awkwardly, my guitar strapped to my back. “Please come back,” I pleaded.

“No. I want to go home,” he cried, quickening his pace as cars whizzed dangerously by.

God, please help us, I prayed, starting to panic. Then I remembered the hymn Mr. Johnson had sung with me earlier that morning. “There’s a land that is fairer than day,” I sang out, as loud as I could. “And by faith we can see it afar.”

Mr. Johnson slowed down and turned toward me. “For the Father waits over the way,” he joined in, tilting his head as if remembering something. By the time we got to the chorus of “In the Sweet By and By,” two aides from the facility had caught up with us. They led Mr. Johnson back with the promise of more hymns and chocolate cake. “Thank you,” one said to me. “He’s bolted out twice this week. He’s missing home.”

I smiled, grateful for the hymns that can help lead us back home, even when we forget where home is.

God, help me be patient as I care for those who struggle with memory loss, and never let me forget that they are more than their disease.

Adapted from
Strength & Grace Magazine

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