Posts Tagged ‘hymns’

“Life is a Journey…. Destination Unknown”

July 29, 2018

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These words, in block capitals and emblazoned on a man’s t-shirt, hit me between the eyes as I emerged from revolving hospital doors into the bright sunshine. People in dressing gowns puffed desperately on cigarette butts as they leaned wearily against poles on my route to the car park. A man sitting on a wheelchair with amputated legs stared through me, his eyes empty and sorrowful, as if this life had left him in a state of permanent shock, which perhaps indeed it had….

Earlier inside, a lady with a tumour on the side of her head sat waiting for the countdown… soon her number would be called to have a blood test. Tired pale patients sat on endless rows of chairs, staring at the floor or reading newspapers, or with their eyes glued to their iPhones; such is everyday life in a public hospital in Ireland. I had seen many come out of consultant’s rooms, tears filling their eyes. In other parts of the hospital revealing scans were taking place, suffering bodies lay in pain and sometimes a priest could be seen hurrying along down a corridor….

As I started up the car, I whispered… “Why, why do I find myself in this terrible place?” This place where the police are called to frequently, especially to the A & E Department, when someone addicted to something loses their cool. Hospitals are not pleasant places – but this one less so than most.

Then I feel regret for having such a thought as this and I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart for all He has done for me and for loved ones.

I thank Him for the health and strength that He has given me, despite the fact that I am “not getting any younger” as the saying goes. I thank Him that He left the realms of glory to come down to this suffering sinful world. I thank Him for His love for all and how He wants nothing more than that ill, burdened and heartbroken souls repent, trust and rest in Him for all their tomorrows.

Life is a Journey… but the destination is not unknown for those who give their lives to Him and put their trust in Him for whatever life brings their way. I drive home from the polluted city to my humble home in the lovely countryside where our sleeping cats purr happily beside bright flowers in the garden and the wind blows softly through the leafy trees. Thank you Lord for leaving your Home, your beautiful and glorious Home in glory to come to such a world as this – and not only to come, but to die for all that they might find that peace that passes all understanding – that peace and tranquillity that transcends life’s darkest moments, in the knowledge that someday they might live in that beautiful Home with You, free from the sorrow and pain of this life.

If life was smooth, carefree and I never had to look on, or experience, suffering, I would be of little use in this old world.  As I gaze at the flowers, the second verse of Isaac Watt’s hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” comes to mind as I think on these things…

“Must I be carried to the skies

On flow’ry beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize,

And sailed through bloody seas?”

 

Yes Lord, if you have a purpose in my visits to places of suffering and if you want me to speak to some soul or souls, I will go in Thy strength. Thank you Lord for contacts already made and someone still in contact.

And thank you, Lord, for the heritage of beautiful hymns left to us by souls who walked closely with you down through the centuries. One such soul was Isaac Watts (1674-1748) who gave his heart to the Lord at the tender age of fifteen. This forerunner of English hymn-writers left a truly wonderful legacy of over six hundred hymns, many of which still encourage heavy hearts today… “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; Alas, and did my Saviour Bleed?; Jesus shall reign, wher’er the sun; Not all the Blood of Beasts on Jewish Altars Slain; Our God, our help in ages past…” I quote the last verse and the chorus of “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” which speaks to my heart at this time in my life…

 

“Since I must fight if I would reign,

Increase my courage Lord!

I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain

Supported by Thy Word.

 

In the Name, the precious Name

Of Him who died for me,

Thro’ grace I’ll win the promised crown,

Whate’er my cross may be.”

 

“Absent from the Body – Present with the Lord” (2Cor. 5v8)

February 24, 2011

A few days before the end of 2010 my father took a severe stroke. What a shock that was and how my loved ones have rallied around for the seven weeks (to the very day) that he died! How much we shall miss him – especially my mother; yet I have that assurance in my heart that Dad is with His Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. On Saturday 19th February as Dad’s body made its last journey down the tree- lined avenue from his home, it was a beautiful day. New baby shoots were pushing their way up through the soil – the promise of another spring of growth and of the warmth of the sun, after winter’s dark cold sorrow. Yes, I cry as I write this, in the knowledge that I shall never see that dear face, or hear his voice on this earth again but I have such joy in serving my father’s risen Saviour who has given me that ‘peace which passes all understanding.’ Now I must go, in His strength, to proclaim His love for all mankind, for I am aware, more than ever of the brevity of life and of the need for souls to be ready for His coming again. I felt privileged to do the reading from 1Thessalonians 4v13-18 at Dad’s funeral service. With trembling hands I opened at this reading which commences with the words… “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”  

After the long journeys made to his bedside these past seven weeks, I had been feeling drained and yet the Lord gave me the strength to climb the steps to the lectern, to do this reading. Hundreds of faces stared up – something which would leave me quivering under normal circumstances, as I am a naturally shy person, but I was doing this for the Lord – and His servant, my Dad. Afterwards my three daughters hugged me and I was greeted with the words: “Grandad would have been so proud of you.”

The two hymns which rang out that day were: “My Jesus I love thee, I know thou art mine” by W.R. Featherston and “Jesus the Name high over all” by Charles Wesley. I love the final verse of “My Jesus I love thee…”

“In mansions of glory and endless delight

I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.”

And I love the final verse of “Jesus the Name high over all…”

“Happy, if with my final breath

I might but gasp His name,

Preach Him to all, and cry in death,

‘Behold, behold the Lamb!”

Outside the church another sea of faces greeted me; some I had not seen since childhood and scarcely knew now. Hands shook mine, old acquaintances embraced me and a world of people from another era of my life floated around. It was almost surreal; I walked as if in a dream with my loved ones behind the funeral cortège, down the village street where I had walked as a child from school. Later at the ‘Orchard cemetery,’ in a lovely rural setting just outside the village of Richhill, my husband and daughters were a comfort as the interment took place. As the coffin was lowered into the grave, the sun suddenly came out in full force, shining strongly and triumphantly through the clouds and I felt embraced by its kindly warmth. How I felt the Lord’s strong Presence and reassurance with me at that moment!

That night my eldest daughter had a dream; she wakened and said to me: “Mum, Grandad is alright. I dreamed that he hugged me and told me not to cry. In the dream he was tall, strong and healthy… and so happy. But when he hugged me, it was as if there was something separating us… ”

“Yes love,” I said, “he is alright. I know that.”

And yes, there is something separating us – the last enemy which is death. Perhaps I will face it some day – and maybe not, but this I know…

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4v16-18)

My prayer is that all who read would trust in the precious Name of my Dad’s Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation!

Link to these hymns: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/m/j/e/mjesusil.htm

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/j/n/a/jnamhigh.htm