What Are We Singing: Two Songs about Jesus Being Enough
- 2010 25 Sep
"When I die," my mother once said as she stood in the middle of her formal living room, arms outstretched by her sides, "y'all please don't argue about all this stuff."
My brother and I promised her we would never do such a thing. And now, as we face the division of our beloved mother's "stuff," we have promised each other not to argue over any little thing.
As I shared this with a friend - and about the anguish of dividing the material treasures of a lifetime - she said, "I hope you can hold to that. I've seen so many siblings stop speaking over such as this."
To which I replied, "It's just stuff. Precious, yes … but not as precious as my relationship with my brother."
In Our Times…
In our current era of economic hardship, we find conversations about financial hardships, mortgage foreclosures, banking institution buyouts and bailouts as commonplace. We're not standing in breadlines yet (and hopefully not ever), but our unemployment rate is through the roof, welfare offices are bombarded, Christian help centers are overwhelmed, and CraigsList is lined with sales from folks who are trying to sell enough to make enough to pay this week's food bill.
In other words, we're losing our stuff.
The question that begs to be asked is, "Does it matter?"
In a way, yes. In another, no. Some of the items I received from my mother's estate may hold no worldly value to most, but to my brother and me, they're priceless. We now hold in our possessions items which once graced the homes of our great-great grandparents, great-grandparents, and grandparents. The blue cotton nightgown hanging in my closet just looks like sleepwear to you but to me it holds the scent of my mother, thus making it invaluable.
But are these things - and the items I've purchased by the sweat of my own brow - the most valuable in my life? No. Not even close. Above them rate my family, my friends, my health. And above all that, my God.
Just Give Me…
In 2009 Thomas Nelson Publishers released a book by the daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham entitled just give me jesus. Already well-known by her own merits, Anne Graham Lotz's book shot high in the best-selling ranks. And no wonder; it was well-written, it gives an inside look at experiencing life's ups and downs by God's grace and mercy, and it's very title is the heart-cry of millions.
Within the first pages, Ms. Lotz quotes the title of her work but adds another word: please.
Just give me Jesus. Please!
Life had nearly knocked her windless and not all of it was bad. Some was sheer blessing. The ministry was growing, the children were getting married. But some of it was just … stinky. In the end, she surmised, no matter what life had given her - good or bad - without Jesus, it was worthless.
A Biblical Look…
Paul wrote in Philippians 3:1: But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things (vss. 7,8 NIV). Then in verse 10 he pens one of my favorite lines from God's Word: I want to know Christ…
Whenever I read this line, whether standing before an audience at a speaking event or in the privacy of my own home, I say it like this: I. Want. To. Know. Christ.
Desperation; that's what it is. Sheer desperation. The young prophet Jeremiah wrote:
This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,"
declares the LORD (Jeremiah 9:23 NIV).
And Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field" (Matthew 13:44) and "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:33).
Nothing. Absolutely nothing should rank higher in value in our lives, in our world, than our relationship with our heavenly Father, his marvelous Son, and the ever-present sweetness of his Holy Spirit.
I usually focus on one song but this month I found two that fit the topic at hand. The first - a beautiful old hymn written in 1922 by Rhea F. Miller and made famous by george beverly shea - titled i'd rather have jesus (Mr. Shea made this song famous at Billy Graham Crusades. Perhaps this inspired Mr. Graham's daughter in later years.)
"I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today," the last line in the refrain goes.
In the morning.
When I am alone.
When I come to die.
"You can have this world," the chorus goes. "Just give me Jesus."
A Story to Close…
I recently read a story about famed evangelist d.l. moody (1837-1899). As he lay on his deathbed, he was visited by hymnist will thompson (1847-1909). Speaking of one of Thompson's beloved musical works, Moody said to his friend, "Will, I would rather have written softly and tenderly jesus is calling than anything I have been able to do in my whole life."
Perhaps Mr. Moody had determined what my mother recently learned. When Jesus calls, softly and tenderly, we run to him at the end of our earthly days, without … stuff.
In the end, the focus is not on what we have gained here on earth, but the one waiting for us in heaven.
Eva Marie Everson is the author of a number of fiction and nonfiction works, including the recently released This Fine Life (Baker/Revell) and Reflections of God's Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel (Thomas Nelson). For more information about Eva Marie and for speaking information, go to www.EvaMarieEverson.com.
Publication date: September 25, 2010