I was a child when I first met Charlie Taplin. Charlie was a bi-vocational minister. A telephone pole man and later a restaurant owner, he was also our minister of worship. Big in stature and rugged looking from working outside, I remember his strong hand shake and beautiful tenor voice. He was a man’s man. Charlie had no formal musical background, but when he sang you knew he loved Jesus. What he may have lacked in training, he made up for in spirit. He was gifted. It may have been his love for music and his love for Jesus that motivated me to sing. During college and in my early years of ministry, I too, was a worship leader.
One of his favorite songs was “But Until Then,” by Stuart Hamlin. Charlie could never finish the song without crying. I haven’t heard this song in more than 30 years. The music doesn’t fit our contemporary style of worship, but it still captures my thoughts about life, Charlie, and Jesus. The verses of this hymn read,
My heart can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that’s winding always upward,
This troubled world is not my final home.
The things of earth will dim and lose their value
If we recall they’re borrowed for awhile;
And things of earth that cause the heart to tremble,
Remembered there will only bring a smile.
This weary world with all its toil and struggle
May take its toll of misery and strife;
The soul of man is like a waiting falcon;
When it’s released, it’s destined for the skies.
The chorus then resounds with this commitment:
But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I’ll carry on,
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.
This week God called Charlie home.