©Will Spicher 2007
your flower bloomed in the autumn
with the beauty of faith's
with a word to comfort the hurting
you were always there
caring & serving
and when I look on the years of your life
I see His hand
leading you home
Often sad, you were always rejoicing
always praising, your song
rose every morning
and when I close my eyes
I see your face in the night
and I believe in your God
and I know He is leading us home
the gates flew open
when you were arriving
to the sound of the angels rejoicing
then you lifted your eyes and beheld Him
Whom for all of your life
you were waiting
and then you looked on the years of your life
and you saw his hand
leading you home
In the late seventies, Lila Johnson walked into her back yard and looked at her hand and was seized with an epiphany: I am fearfully and wonderfully made! (Ps 139:14) She was in her early sixties and suddenly became aware of God. Though she had been raised by a preacher, by her own testimony, all those years she did not have a personal relationship with God. Yet now, as dreams died in financial failure, she was awakened to the knowledge of her creator. Soon afterward she found herself in a small church on a Sunday morning in which she answered a call to respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Her conversion was a dramatic one--the kind every Bible-believing church should envy. From that day, Lila dedicated herself to knowing and serving the One who had forgiven her sin, granted her eternal life, and done so much for her. She read her Bible to pieces, poured herself into volunteerism, and told everyone she met about Jesus--including me.
In those days I was just entering a turbulent adolescence with a fascination with occult topics--some of which had been inspired by Lila's own books on astrology and dream interpretations (that she had since renounced). Therefore I enjoyed debating Grandma for hours on end. I would explain, "Jesus was just a man who understood his relationship to the Universe better than others, and that is why he was able to perform miracles." (Of course, I didn't yet recognize that this position implied that Jesus' own statements about his origin, personhood, and purpose were also based on a better understanding than others--including the occultists.) But my faith was propositional; Grandma's was personal. She spoke like she really knew Him who poured out his blood for her and filled her with His Spirit. It wasn't just about power (though she encountered plenty); it was about Love and Salvation and Sacrifice. With Lila Johnson, the "Full Gospel" was indeed full and overflowing with the substance of Life. But it came with a price: surrender. And I was still preoccupied with doing life my way. Consequently, I mostly avoided her--her love, that is, which testified that I had a need that I would not acknowledge, and her faith which somehow knew that I had a destiny with her God.
But on July 23, 1984, she knew, with what I then regarded as a "sixth sense," that I was in trouble and needed prayer. In fact, she said God's Spirit "told" her to pray earnestly for me. And for good reason: for I descended into a crisis that drew me close to death (another song and web page on the to-do list). But at the critical point, I "somehow" knew what to do: "Call upon the Name of the Lord" (Ro 10:13). In desperation I fell to my knees and cried out, "Jesus, please forgive me. Please come into my heart. And please help me." After twenty-two years of trying to understand what happened to me at that moment, all I can say is this: God rushed into me and flooded my being and took up residence within me (John 14:23).
Two weeks later, Lila visited me in the hospital and found a very different young man. As she led me in "the sinner's prayer," I felt for the first time the joy of salvation and began to weep. But this was very new to me, and I asked, "Why am I weeping?" She answered, "That is the Holy Spirit." From that day, we had a new relationship as she continued to mentor me in The Way.
But my conversion was not enough for Lila. About this time she felt a personal identification with the Scripture in Acts 16:31: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." She began to claim this word, using it to strengthen her faith and believing for the salvation of all her loved ones. And we were many--with a dozen siblings, each with children and grandchildren, she counted many dozens as in her "household". Twenty years later, I am not aware of one that has passed into eternity without at some point making a confession of faith in Jesus Christ--an astounding miracle from my perspective. He is, indeed, leading us home. While others were using the teachings about faith to believe for bigger houses and Cadillac's, Lila seized upon it for that for which it was intended: eternal treasures that cannot be consumed by moths, rust, or thieves.
I well remember my last conversation with her on July 4, 2003--two days before she died. She told of her conversations with the doctors and nurses that tended to her: she was telling them about Jesus.
According to my notes, I have been sitting on most of the music since 1997. It has always been one of my favorite pieces for the guitar with its moving-bass and repeating-soprano approach. But the melody was awkward writing lyrics for, and I was never satisfied with the topics to which I tried to fit them.
I remember a day some months after Lila passed on, it occurred to me that this song was meant for this purpose. But, to borrow words from Tolkein, for me "the grief was still too near, a matter for tears and not yet for song." But, as the production notes describe, on March 1, 2007, the time had fully come, and I suddenly sensed that other songs on the to-do list would have to wait.
A funny thing occurred to me: Since WillSongs++ was launched, I have not recorded a bass line since Cheering You On. The other two tracks with bass retained the original line recorded years ago for the demos. My instincts have changed with time. In this song, I did something different: I set the pickup pan 100% to the neck pickup (first time ever) and got a very different sound--especially when picking hard enough for the strings to collide with the fret-board.
The 414 is featured on the fingerstyle portion. The latter half has the rhythm doubled with the 414 in the left channel and the 555 in the right channel--both recorded through the B-2 with the same settings. The strings and drums were produced, as usual, with blood, sweat, tears, and MIDI.
I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother... 2 Tim 1:5
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in [cleave to, trust in, rely on] the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." ... He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God--he and his whole family. Acts 16:29-34
"I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth...you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." John 14:16-17 (emphasis added)
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:23