Monday Morning Music Ministry

Start Your Week with a Spiritual Song in Your Heart

Ye Who Are Weary, Come Home

11-26-12

I have become aware of the condition of a friend who has experienced some trials lately. None of the experiences are, perhaps, unusual in themselves, but their almost simultaneous visitations might test anyone’s spirit. He is trying, not to make sense of these sorts of life-happenings – because everything makes sense or nothing makes sense; and “time and chance happen to all men,” as Proverbs says – but to cope, simply to cope. Have you ever been there?

In less than a calendar year his special-needs niece died; his nine-day-old granddaughter died; his wife, after multiple long-term illnesses, is to choose between dialysis and hospice; and his sister, who lost her home in Hurricane Sandy, is losing a battle with HIV that was long held at bay. My friend says he keeps fighting the seduction to moan about his own condition, his own emotions and reactions to these matters.

But he knows – that is, he too infrequently remembers – that it is not about him. It is about these loved ones. And about God. Usually, when nothing makes sense to us, and God seems to be somewhere in the story, it means that God is EVERYWHERE in the story. The man’s wife, for instance, has been cited by many, many people through the decades as an inspiration: encouraging people to faith and endurance as her faith helped her to endure. And his sister, after years of rebellion, has come to know Jesus, drawing closer to God.

Why do we find it so hard to see the silver linings to the dark clouds? Why are we always surprised at the grace that infuses every “crisis”? Why do we forget that the sun shines, not only after the storm clouds pass – but all the time, even when the storm clouds temporarily are overhead and blot the sun from view?

Just like the natural tendency to be sad when a loved one dies, such emotions are a brand of selfishness. Not the nasty schoolyard selfishness, but self-ish focus on one’s own condition. Rather, or I should say in addition to the unavoidable, we should direct all the emotions we can toward the loved ones in their difficulties, and to God on their behalf.

We should not believe that God is in control only when the course of events magically follows our own scripts. God wants us, more than anything else, to trust in Him. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is not summoning patience until God does what we want. Faith is, sometimes, stopping our obsession to understand everything.

And faith is humility. Obey His commands, trust in His love, accept His plan. My sister, newly a friend of God, is blessed not just by the power and balm of the act of praying, but of praying on her knees, specifically. There is a language of prayer, in some gifted circumstances; and, surely, there is also an attitude of prayer.

And sometimes, my friend has discovered anew, there is the biblical concept of the “sacrifice of praise” – when you don’t feel like praying, and even less feel like praising, is when to do it. Loudly and confidently, or softly and tenderly, do it.

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If you never have clicked on a music video after one of these messages, please do watch this one, the completion of this message. The classic hymn “Softly and Tenderly” was written a century and a quarter ago by Will L. Thompson on similar reflections, and among its verses, “Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing, Passing from you and from me; Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming, Coming for you and for me.” But followed by: “Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised, Promised for you and for me! Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon, Pardon for you and for me.” And the promise in the chorus: “Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home; Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner, come home!” Sung by RoseAngela Merritt of NewSpring Church, Anderson, S.C.

Click: Softly and Tenderly

Category: Faith, Hope, Perseverance

Tagged: , , , , , ,

12 Responses

  1. Urb says:

    spot on message for today. thank you, Rick!

  2. Deb Claypool says:

    Very early every Monday morning your message and song are a part of my morning quiet time. I look so forward each week to what you will write and the music that you have selected. I want to thank you for the encouragement and exposure to some beautiful music.
    They are all amazing but Softly and Tenderly is at the top of my list at least until next Monday morning.

  3. Pete Godbey says:

    Rick, Thank you for yet another uplifting message and wonderful song to lift my spirit in the Lord.

  4. Leah C. Morgan says:

    I love your friend and his determination to seek the Lord, if haply he might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being.

  5. Barb Haley says:

    I love your friend as well. Please remind him that God’s arms are deep enough to hold the dear loved ones AND him. I disagree that it’s selfishness to moan and grieve in sorrow and anguish. Your friends’ intentions are pure-to pray and praise God in the midst of the circumstances. But it seems that to channel one’s emotions to the loved ones in their difficulties and to God on their behalf, is to deny the truth of the burdens he carries in his human heart. And only in truth can he be set free … to effectively minister and pray for others in love. To worship God in spirit and truth. Your friend, no doubt, longs to continue to be God’s light in a darkened corner. But God doesn’t want to pour His light, His power and joy into a vessel tainted with repressed and unresolved sorrow, doubt, anger, pain, etc. He wants your friend to bring it all to His feet moment by moment, day by day; and in so doing, your friend will find the strength to carry on and the peace that passes understanding. It is this strength and peace that your friend can then share with the loved ones. God doesn’t say, “Be strong FOR me,” but, “Be strong, for I am with you.”As with Peter and John on the day of Pentecost, others will sense and know that your friend has “been with Jesus.” I’ll be praying for your friend and his loved ones!

  6. beth slevcove says:

    Really didn’t like this part:
    “Just like the natural tendency to be sad when a loved one dies, such emotions are a brand of selfishness. Any reactions we can summon should be channeled to the loved ones in their difficulties, and to God on their behalf.” Wow. In my mind, that comment skewed the depths and invitation of Jesus’ words in the song.
    Such emotions (like sadness when a loved one dies) are indications that we have humanly loved and connected to another person in the way God intended. And our honesty in opening up our losses to Christ, without judgment or minimization, is a powerful means Christ uses to transforms us.

    This, I really liked:
    “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is not summoning patience until God does what we want. Faith is, sometimes, stopping our obsession to understanding everything.”
    I should tattoo this last line on my arm :)!

  7. mikey says:

    Spot on! Cuts to the core.

    And this is probably my fave hymn, mostly due to Cynthia Clawson’s stirring rendition many years ago. Love this one too…

    Thanks

  8. Beth, thank you. I was awkward in ascribing selfishness to the reactions we have when someone dies. It is the wrong word — or its common meaning is wrong to apply. We are allowed to grieve and in effect tear our garments and confess to unbearable feelings of loss, and such can be liberating as well as honest. I have tweaked my words, again perhaps clumsily, attempting to express the feeling I have experienced, when guilt or self-directed emotions have robbed me of honoring the late friend, or rejoicing that they are with Jesus. Too personal, I think, to attempt a universal observation. You have probably discerned that “my friend” is someone known to me quite well, and to you. You have not been a stranger to personal loss, either. I have come to realize that utter joy and utter grief are mysteries incapable of satisfying solutions. Does time heal all wounds?

  9. Thank you, Mikey. Yes, a killer hymn, very heavy words. Here is a totally absurd trivia connection. Do you know the W C Fields film “The Old-Fashioned Way”? The old bat who Fields romances in the movie, a Victorian farce, sings, “Gathering Up the Shells From the Sea Shore.” It was a popular song of the 19th century, written by the same man who wrote “Softly and Tenderly,” Will L. Thompson. Strange.
    I appreciate your re-posting. I have received many comments.

  10. Cuz Reni says:

    Rick,
    Know that your “friend” and his family – especially wife and sister now struggling with their individual health issues are being held up in prayer, not only by other feeble travelers on this side of heaven, but by our Lord Jesus, who sits at the Father’s right hand, interceding for your friend, his wife, and sister, and all of us who are his blood-bought brothers and sisters. His prayers, whispered in the Father’s ears mention each by name, and give real-time strength and comfort, as you well know. May His name be praised even in these sad times because HE IS FAITHFUL!

  11. beth slevcove says:

    Thank you Rick.
    Now I recognize your voice again.
    I wish I could walk down the hallway and have a good, deep, face to face conversation with you about loss and faith. Listening, laughing, arguing, learning from you, in one of our irreverently beautiful conversations.

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About The Author

... Rick Marschall is the author of 74 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture (Bostonia magazine called him "perhaps America's foremost authority on popular culture") to history and criticism; country music; television history; biography; and children's books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. For 10 years he has been active in the Christian field, writing devotionals and magazine articles; he was co-author of "The Secret Revealed" with Dr Jim Garlow. His biography of Johann Sebastian Bach for the “Christian Encounters” series (Thomas Nelson) was released in April, 2011. Read More