"I Love to Tell the Story"
- 2007 15 Aug
"She May Not Know Me - But I Know Her"
For several months sweet old Mr. Sam went to the Nursing Home each morning at 9:00. One stormy day the nurse who cared for his wife, wondered if he would come out in this awful weather. But he arrived exactly at the same time ready for his special visit. Nurse Susan commented on his faithfulness to his wife who did not even recognize him anymore. Mr. Sam smiled and replied, "She may not know who I am, but I know who she is."
With those words of love, he entered the same room, and sat in the same chair and took the same cherished and wrinkled hand he had held for almost 60 years.
In a much deeper way, Jesus our Lord and Savior comes to each of us with the perfect love of God in His heart. He is faithful and continues to come. But those who do not know who Jesus is do not respond nor receive Him into their hearts.
His love does not diminish, however. He continues to knock at the heart's door. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in and sup with him" (Rev.3:20).
In Philippians 2:8-11 we further understand why God came to us:
"And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and those under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
His love and His purpose never changes even if there is no response. Since the beginning of creation, God has reached out to touch and to guide His people. But there were those who walked in rebellion and were led away from His purpose.
It began in the Garden with Adam and Eve. It persisted through Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Then Moses led God’s people out of bondage in Egypt. Prophet, priest and king continued to speak for God. There were always obedient people but some chose their own selfish way.
But praise to the great God of creation who came in human flesh as a little baby to grow into manhood. The King of all Kings, Jesus the Christ has shown us the way to salvation. Many do not know Him, but there is no doubt that He knows us.
He wants to hold the hand of the rebellious, the disobedient, and those in the grip of addictions. He loves and waits for the response of any persons caught in those traps. It is up to us who have answered Jesus' call to give hope to the lost. To share the gospel message is not only imperative but joyful.
The words of Jesus in Mark 16:15 continue to give perfect guidance: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
Long ago, in 1834, a woman was born who would eventually write a hymn that embodies this idea. Katherine Hankey lived her life in London, England and was reared in a Christian home. In fact, her family often invited guests to their home to study the Bible. Katherine, nicknamed Kate, even took Bible study into the slums of the city to teach Sunday school classes.
When she was thirty years old an illness kept her bedridden for many months. But this did not curb her enthusiasm for sharing the gospel message. Writing poetry that told the story of Jesus was her outlet. The longest poem was divided into two sections, entitled "The Story Wanted" and "The Story Told."
Through this time of bedrest Katherine Hankey gave the world one of the most heartwarming hymns ever written. "I Love To Tell the Story" was published in 1868. It was taken from the second part of the longer poem. Music was composed by William G. Fisher.
"I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story, because I know 'tis true,
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
"I love to tell the story, ‘twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love."
As the hymn continues for three more verses it creates a desire to know more. I am sure it was Hankey’s intent that believers learn all that is possible about this blessed Savior. In fact, in the last verse she reveals her own desire to know more:
"I love to tell the story, for those who know it best,
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
‘Twill be the old, old story, that I have loved so long."
There was a memorable day when I myself visited a nursing home. That experience is recorded in my book, 52 Hymn Story Devotions. "Carrie Shook was one hundred years old and asked that I come to her room for a visit. The tattered black leather Bible on her bedside offered witness that she had loved to hear and tell the story for a long time. Her whispery voice repeated the words of several old hymns. What a joy to hear her say, 'I like hearing about Jesus. He keeps me company all the time.' My precious friend blessed my life that day."
Dear Lord Jesus, I come to you in thanksgiving that someone told me about You when I was a child. Thank You for knocking on the door of my heart. You loved me and waited patiently until my needs were so great that I knew there was no where else to go. I had knowledge in my head but it was not until I hungered and thirsted for more of your Truth and Power that I began to walk in Your abundance. Now I love to tell Your story. Yes Jesus, I pray in Your name.
Lucy Neeley Adams has always loved music. She began telling the story of hymns on Christian radio WWGM in Nashville, TN, in the '80s. She then wrote a newspaper column titled "Song Stories" for five years. During that time Lucy's book, 52 Hymn Story Devotions, was published by Abingdon Press in Nashville. Each of the 52 stories contained in the book is written in a devotional format, with the words of the hymn concluding each devotion. Lucy, dubbed "The hymn lady," can be heard on the first Thursday of each month when she discusses hymn stories during a telephone interview with Michelle Mendoza of "Living Christian." The program is aired on station KCIS in Seattle, WA. Lucy lives at Lake Junaluska, NC, with her minister husband, Woody. They have four children and fourteen grandchildren. She may be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her at 52hymns.com.