When I was young, my family listened fervently to James Ward. James was a Christian contemporary singer/songwriter, popular in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. He also happened to be a friend to our family by association. He wasn’t in the “famous” category like other Christian contemporaries of that time:  Michael W Smith, Amy Grant, etc. But he was famous in our household. We every knew word to every song on every album (remember when that was a thing? Albums?). We attended his concerts and truly loved his music. He was charismatic and showed his love for Jesus in the “soul” of his music. He picked out beautiful themes in his songs and always led us back to God’s love for his people and how we respond to this love.

One of his songs always struck a chord with our family—Rock of Ages. James “re-did” Augustus Toplady’s 1776 hymn with a new tune that echoed throughout our house almost every Sunday morning prior to church. My mom loved to turn it up a bit on the record player. It was the unplugged “piano only” version we all loved.

This song somehow seems to just fit for me these days, for in the times we are in. The words—although written in a different time—seem to be what I need right now. At the time of this writing, I am self-isolating due to being a close contact to someone with COVID-19 and I am personally in prayer for family members who have COVID (like many of you). The middle school and secondary campuses have become especially vulnerable over the past few days leading to “functional closure” of those campuses and many of our staff and students are being expected to self-isolate.

I must admit that I really can’t belt it out like I did when I was a kid…but the music and the lyrics still ring true to who I am and where I am at this time. As a leader of ACS, perhaps I need to be a bit more of the truth: “Trust in God…and everything will be all right,” but I’m tired like everyone else.

Allow these lyrics to wash over you. They are soothing for me and perhaps they are for you as well.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labour of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.