The Music of a Lifetime

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jun 25, 2011

"Preaching can reach the mind - at least those of us who spend our lives preaching hope that is true. But music reaches the imagination, which is often more powerful."
Chuck Colson

Evie and I recently had the opportunity to get out of town for a few days. Our friends, Jonas and Anne, invited us to join them and some other friends for a weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The occasion was to join 7,000 or so others for five concerts of southern gospel music led by Bill and Gloria Gaither. 

We first heard the Gaithers somewhere around 40 years ago when we lived in northwestern Pennsylvania. Their concert was held in an old Methodist church but from the moment we heard them, we knew their music would have a profound impact on our lives. And it has. 

Over these four decades a lot of water has gone down the river, but whether it has been still, quiet, and slow moving, or the rushing torrents from vicious storms, Gaither music has always been helping us stay afloat and has been feeding our souls. 

You can only imagine, then, how excited we were to hear these musicians and their friends close up and personal. We spread the nearly 11 hour drive from Pennsylvania to Tennessee over two days. Evie and I have always tried to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. As one of our friends says, "Life is two parts journey; one part destination." 

The sights of the spectacular Shenandoah Valley of Virginia will stay with us just as long as the taste of the ice cream cones from that old soda fountain drug store in Buchanan, Virginia. We even drove through a never-to-be-forgotten hail storm with rain and nearly ping pong ball sized hail pelting our car like buckshot. 

The concerts were everything and more than we ever expected. Songs we had on old LP (long play) records, eight track cartridges, cassette tapes, CDs and now on our iPods, we heard live. Bill just celebrated his 75th birthday but along with Gloria, his wife of 48 years, their passion for musical excellence and spiritual depth has only increased. Although I shook his hand and briefly expressed our deep appreciation for the role they have had on our lives, words could not begin to convey what they have meant to us. 

I agree with Chuck Colson who said that "music reaches the imagination." As we listened to the music of the Gaither Family Fest, we were transported to the highest mountains as well as to the lowest valleys of our journey of faith. Some songs reminded us of the words from our wedding day, "And now I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Don Meyer." Other songs brought back the joys of "Congratulations, you are the father of a healthy baby boy." 

But we also heard, "You have a kidney stone" and "There is nothing we can do about those headaches." After our twin sons were born prematurely, this music comforted us when we heard the doctor say, "Kevin will be fine but we did everything we could do for Keith; we revived him three times but could not do it again." 

I could never list all of the times we were in the heat of the battles of life or on the mountain tops of victory or just in the middle of the long journey of life when we have leaned upon this music. But through it all, the Gaithers have been our constant inspirational companions. Their more recent song "Through" helped provide a night light for us in the darkest night of our souls when we faced a recent family tragedy which is still almost too painful for words. 

The weekend is now over and we return to our routines but the music of a lifetime continues to breathe new life into our souls. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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