Friday, 26 March 2010


I have always loved stories.

Perhaps it’s because I come from a line of good story-tellers. My grandparents, on both sides, are master story-tellers. Professionals, if you will. Some of my most cherished memories involve the whole family sitting in the living room, listening to Granda or Grannie (whoever happens to be center stage at the time) share a particular memory, sometimes so moving that you can’t sleep that night for thinking about it, and other times so hilarious that you’re laughing well into the night.

Anyways, my favourite stories are the ones that are true, and usually the ones that are serious. Because life is a serious thing. Those are the sorts of stories that are unforgettable, that mean something, that teach us something.

During spring break, my mum lent me a book entitled Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan. Its pages contain the stories behind certain beloved hymns. I was instantly fascinated. You know, I’ve sung many of these hymns in church, in the car, in the shower. But I’ve never known their stories. I’ve wondered, but never thought to look up their history. Sure, the names appear at the bottom of the page in my hymnal, but that’s it, just a bunch of consonants and vowels. I mean… who were they? where did they come from? and most of all, what fueled their lyrics?

Well, I didn’t have to wonder any longer. I went straight to the index, scrolling down the lists for some of my favourites. Here’s what I found. (excerpts from the book)

I Need Thee Every Hour was written by a stay-at-home mother in Brooklyn, New York. Annie Sherwood tell us her story. “One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks. Suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him, either in joy or pain, these words, I Need Thee Every Hour, were ushered into my mind, the thought at once taking full possession of me.” She later said, “It was not until long after, when the shadow fell over my way, the shadow of great loss of my husband, that I understood something of the comforting power in the words which I had been permitted to give out to others in my hour of sweet serenity and peace.”

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go was written by George Matheson. He lost his eyesight during his teenage years, which caused his fiancĂ©e to break their engagement, as she refused to marry a blind man. He later came to learn of his sister’s engagement. Although he rejoiced with her, his mind went back to his own heartache. He consoled himself in thinking of God’s love which is never limited, never conditional, never withdrawn, and never uncertain. Out of this experience it is said he wrote the hymn, O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go, on June 6, 1882.

His Eye is on the Sparrow
was written by Civilla Durfee Martin. Here is her account of her song, “Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle – true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittle’s, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle’s reply was simple: “His eye is on the sparrow; and I know He watches me.” The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn His Eye Is on the Sparrow was the outcome of that experience.

Knowing these stories has made these songs all the richer.

Friday, 12 March 2010

expect great things

You know the old song by Frank Sinatra, The Best Is Yet To Come? Well, it’s true… for the Christian.

I spent the afternoon with some of the older ladies from my church. They may be old, but I tell ya, they have more life about them than most teenagers I know. Young people could do with a good dose of Christian old people, if ya ask me. These women, in particular, sure knew how to have a good laugh. And they sure knew how to cook. My time with them passed by quickly, as I listened to them recount memory after memory. I learned about their late husbands, their children, and their careers. Their eyes sparkled as they reminisced about the good times. And their lips curled into a certain smile, as they remembered the bad times... with an appreciation, wrought by firsthand experience that “God does work all things together for the good of those who love Him.” One lady told me twice in the course of one conversation, “There is a reason for everything.” I listened and listened, collecting golden nuggets of wisdom.

Anyways, my dad and mum were both there as well, just as busy collecting their own nuggets, I’m sure. When it was nearly time to go, my dad shared a short devotion to encourage these dear women. Although, I’m secretly convinced God had custom-tailored this devotion for me. My dad quoted Psalm 27:13, I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! and Psalm 23:6, Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. Notice the expectancy in these verses. David is absolutely certain that God’s goodness is paving the path for his future steps. He goes to bed at night, expecting God’s mercies to meet him in the morning. He expects God to be tomorrow, what He has been yesterday and today.

My dad reminded us all today to remember that the best is always ahead for the child of God. That does not mean that everything will be just peachy. Of course not. But our good God will remain His same-good-self.

Let’s not forget 1 Peter 1:3, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It’s time we wake up again to the joy and peace of this living hope. Let’s face it -just because you’re breathing doesn’t mean you’re living.

To really be alive, you must know Jesus. And when you know Jesus, you’ve got a lot to look forward to! As an old man in Northern Ireland used to pray, Lord, keep me alive until I'm dead.

Hopefully some day, if God lets me live so long, I will be just like these sweet and seasoned women of the Lord. It starts now, though. It means trusting God, while I'm just twenty-one-years-old. It means expecting God to be faithful every.single.tomorrow, from here-on-out. It means living with hope.

Monday, 8 March 2010

counting my blessings

You know it’s a good week when...
... you catch the sunrise and the sunset, on the same day.
... you go a walk in the rain with your mum, without an umbrella.
... your rejoicing in the Lord overflows into dance.
... you can say “There is no one like Jesus!”
... your friends (including Pandora, who, might I add, is becoming a good friend)introduce you to new music.
... a thoughtful card awaits you in your mailbox.
... you enjoy a cuppa organic earl grey tea with a friend.
... you have fresh flowers in your bedroom.
... this is the view from your window...

Thanks, Lord!