A friend of ours, Mr. Simon Lane, passed away in January. It was really sad to hear especially because we had not seen him or his family for a number of years. My wife used to work with Mr. Lane's wife a number of years ago but both ended up getting laid off. The first time that I met the Lane family was when they came to our church to sing.
The Lane Singers were impressive. I had seen good singers before. I had been to professional concerts before. But there was something special about this family. There was Mrs. Lane and what seemed like 20 daughters singing (they only had 6 daughters and I can't quite remember how many were singing with them at the time) with Mr. Lane on guitar and their son on bass. I could have sat there and listened to them for hours.
I had just started to play the guitar and get involved in helping out with worship at church so I was particularly drawn to Mr. Lane and his guitar playing. As I got to know Mr. Lane over the years I heard rumors and stories about how he made his way up to Chicago from Mississippi. One story that I particularly liked was how he had come up to Chicago to audition to play with Muddy Waters but instead ended up becoming a Christian and meeting his wife. Mr. Lane gave me the best piece of musical advice I have received. At one point I was telling him how I was struggling to learn to play a song the same way that the original artist was playing it. Mr. Lane told me that I needed to make the song my own instead of trying to playing it exactly the way someone else did. That forever changed the way that I approached playing music and leading worship.
The other stories about Mr. Lane that I really appreciated were the ones that his children told at Mr. Lane's "Home Going" service. They didn't have a funeral service rather they had a home going service. One of Mr. Lane's favorite sayings was that his citizenship is in Heaven. He was a devoted follower of Christ and knew that his sins were forgiven. He knew that when he died that he would be going to meet his maker in a very positive way. He knew that because of his faith in Christ that he would spend eternity in Heaven. And his family was also strongly aware of this and they celebrated his going home to Heaven. That celebration was filled with great singing, powerful spoken and written words as well as many tears.
Sardis Lane, Mr. Lane's son, gave the eulogy. It was equal parts remembering the impact that a strong Christian father had on his son and telling the Gospel message which gave the family the hope of seeing their father again one day. Sardis spoke with great passion about the need to share the Gospel message. In that moment Sardis was a living example of 1 Peter 3:15:
"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."
And Sardis credited the reason that he needed to give the Gospel message to the impact that his father had on him. I don't know any greater legacy that a parent can leave for their children. I hope that whoever gives my eulogy feels that same great hope and need to share the Gospel message.
I count myself blessed for having known Mr. Simon Lane and his family. I count myself blessed for the opportunity to hear the Lane Singers singing of their great faith. I also count myself blessed for the opportunities that I had to be involved as a musician in their concert events. Although I wish that I had taken greater advantage of those opportunities. But then I do have the great hope to once again be able to sit and play guitar with Mr. Lane. The next time we do so will be in Heaven in the presence of God. That will be a glorious time.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.