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Sweet Will of God

Posted By on October 31, 2016

by Teri Ong

 

The senior missionary and founder of Camp-of-the Woods, Garland Cofield, had two sons and two daughters quite near to me in age. All of the family members were good musicians. But Father wanted Daughters to learn to play violin. At the age of 17, I had already been playing for over 12 years. It was natural that I would be asked to give lessons since I was going to be there for the whole summer.camp-woods5

They had a “copy of a Stradivarius” – $59.95 straight out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog by way of Japan. The bow bowed more side to side than it did top to bottom. I could barely make the tin strings sound respectable, and they could not at all. They were both more than a little vexed that their brothers, both accomplished guitar players, did better the first time than they did after a month of lessons and guided practice.

Music was a principal occupation every evening at camp. When campers were present, the evening service began with an extended time of singing gospel songs accompanied by whatever assortment of instrumentalists were present. We could almost always count on bass guitar, a couple acoustic guitars, accordion, piano, sometimes a wind instrument or two, and violin or mandolin (depending on my mood). If campers were not present, the lodge would attract players and singers from the camp staff, and we would play and sing “favorites” until “lights out.”

As the summer progressed, we had a stream of visitors that would come for occasional evenings. They would always join in the music. One special visitor was a bush pilot named Ed. He came frequently that summer to see a special lady on the staff named Gail. He would land his float plane on the lake and taxi up to the dock that was only yards from the lodge. What made him extra special was that he also played the violin, and he carried a good one in his plane. Not only did he play the violin, he played it well. It was a special treat to play with him.

During lulls in the singing, various musicians would sometimes play instrumental numbers. Often “Mr. C” would request particular players or hymns. When Ed was there, he always asked us to play together. Usually, we would pick a familiar hymn from the ample supply in the hymnal. Since I played the piano for congregational singing in my home church and had been raised with the old hymns, it was hard for Ed to pick one that I didn’t know.

But one evening he asked if we could play one that was not in the hymnal I was most familiar with.

“What about this one?” he asked. “Sweet Will of God?”

“Sure. How many verses?”

“Let’s play all of them. You take harmony.”

We started in on one of the sweetest melodies I had ever heard. It was only after we were done playing that I read the equally wonderful words.

 

My stubborn will at last hath yielded;

I would be Thine and Thine alone;

And this the prayer my lips are bringing,

‘Lord, let in me Thy will be done.’

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,

Till I am wholly lost in Thee;

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,

Till I am wholly lost in Thee.   (Mrs. C.H. Morris)

 

We played it more than once over the course of that summer season.

By the next summer, Ed had married Gail and I think he and his new wife only dropped in once during the summer of ‘73. After the summer of ‘73, I went to Tennessee Temple College where I  continued to study music and played in the Chattanooga Symphony. God was using many circumstances, some intensely thrilling and some intensely painful, to work His sweet will in my life throughout my freshman sojourn.

Sometime during the winter of that school year, my heart skipped a beat when the assistant pastor who read the prayer requests asked us to remember a Christian bush pilot who was lost in a blizzard in northern Ontario. There were too many camp connections in that church for me not to feel uneasy. The Cofields had been commissioned by that church.  Mr. Cofield’s sister and her husband were leaders there. Two of my three roommates had connections to Camp-of-the-Woods.  Jim Cofield was an officer in the freshman class at TTC. I knew at once in my heart that the lost pilot was Ed. I looked for Jim at the end of prayer meeting.

“Is it Ed?”

Jim nodded.

I wiped away tears that had been waiting to flow.“Let me know if you hear more.”

He nodded again.

 

Later we learned that Ed had had a hard landing on a frozen lake in a blizzard. He had gotten out of the plane, but was too injured to take many survival measures or to try to get help. He was able to get into a sleeping bag to provide some warmth as he lay there on the ice. He had lost one mitt in the process. Miraculously, he survived and was found, but one hand and one foot were beyond saving.

I saw Ed and Gail twice more in the next few years, contented and blessed with a growing family. Once was at camp and once was at my brother’s wedding to a girl he had met at camp. On the first occasion, Ed asked me to play a hymn – solo this time.

 

And this the prayer my lips are bringing,

‘Lord, let in me Thy will be done.’

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,

Till I am wholly lost in Thee…


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