Many years ago, when I was living in New York City, my friend Ann Ault had me play a song on the piano. It was called "Charity" and was based on something called "The First Letter to the Corinthians." I had no idea as to what "Corinthians" were, (though the actor Ricardo Montalban had done a commercial for a car that featured "fine Corinthian leather." Letter or leather, this young Jewish man from Cleveland was clueless!
Little did I know that the words of "1 Corinthians 13" were written by another Jewish man named Saul, a rabbi from a placed called Tarsus; a man who became known to the world as Saint Paul. His ancient writing had been put to music by a modern fellow named Kenn Gulliksen. I had no idea who he was either, but I recall liking the piece.
Fast forward a year or two, and Ann has led me in a prayer of commitment to Yeshua (Jesus), I am part of a congregation called "The Vineyard," Kenn Gulliksen is the pastor, and I am singing songs based on passages from the pen of men like Saint Paul!
Fast forward even further and I am in California with Jennifer Yaffee, a girl whom I first saw at the Vineyard and married a little while a later. Twenty-five years have passed since we wed in Los Angeles, had a daughter, Danyel Misha, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to raise her. There, in what is sometimes called the "buckle of the Bible belt," she grew into a lovely and loving young lady who has, in spite of her earthly father's many faults, a heart that seeks after the heart of her heavenly Father. For eighteen years I have been nothing but pleased with Misha; now I stand amazed as I watch her do her best to please Him!
And now, Jenny and I are the proud (and nervous) parents of a college freshman. As part of her application to the university she attends, she auditioned for their women's chorus and was accepted. On her first day there, she joined the other young ladies in performing a song for ALL the proud and nervous parents who would, that evening, leave campus--- without their child. (In our case, we left our one and only!)
So, the time has come to let go---and to hold on tighter than ever---in prayer---and in love. That is the one thought, the one emotion, the one truth that seasons everything we are experiencing in this new---and unfamiliar season. In a world of uncertainties and unknowns, this we know and of this we are certain: we love our daughter, she loves us--- and G-d is the author and perfecter of that love.
The rabbi/apostle said it well:
"Love...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13: 7+8)
As valedictorian of her high school class, Misha chose as her theme the words spoken by Yeshua in response to a question as to what was the greatest commandment:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your might, and...you shall love your neighbor as yourself."
We could not have been more blessed than we were on our daughter's commencement day when she delivered that moving speech. That same blessing attended us as we listened to her sing on the day she commenced her college career.
Along with the precious daughters of the other assembled parents, Misha sang words which have now become very familiar to her sad/glad dad; the words from "The First Letter to the Corinthians." The composer and the melody were different than the ones to which I had been been introduced so many years before. I had liked "Charity," the first rendition I had heard of 1 Corinthians 13. This new version was life to my soul!
A well known phrase from a song by the group "First Call" goes something like this: I don't know what the future holds but I know who holds the future. Amen.
What more can we ask, Jenny and I, than that our treasured daughter begin this new phase of her life---and ours---with a declaration of the transcendent and permanent power of love! When all has been said and all has been done, love is what remains---love is what abides.
As I write this, we are still in California. Soon we will return to Tennessee and the house which was Misha's home for all but one year of her of her young life. We will miss seeing her off to school in the morning and kissing her good night. We will miss her going out with us, hanging out with her friends and launching out into every new activity we had the privilege of sharing with her these many years---which passed much too quickly!
Should it be on your heart to pray for our family, we would so appreciate it.
In that spirit, we thought you might appreciate hearing the song that brought comfort to our trembling hearts that day we began our farewell to Misha---at least for a while.
"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
(1 Corinthians 13: 13)
Thank you, again, for listening.