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Monday, 22 August 2011

It is well with my soul!

In common, I suspect, with many disciples of Jesus, I have a lot of songs - both from many years ago, and from more recent times - that I really love, and that speak very powerfully to me.  However, if I was obliged to choose just one as my very most favourite ever, it would be the one written in the 19th century by Horatio G Spafford - "When peace, like a river". 

The story behind the writing of the song is very poignant.  Mr Spafford, a lawyer by profession, lived in Chicago with his wife and four daughters.  One day, in 1873, he stood on the quayside and bade farewell to his family as they set sail for Europe in order to visit relatives.  Some days later, as their ship was bound for the French port of Le Havre, it collided with another steamship in mid-Atlantic, and sank almost immediately.  Before it did so, however, Mrs Spafford was able to pray with her children and commit them to the Lord whom they all loved, and sought to serve.  The mother was eventually rescued - but the four children perished.  When she reached the U.K., she sent a telegram to her husband with just two words - "Saved alone".

It was three years later that Horatio Spafford wrote that great hymn.  The initial reference  to "sorrows like sea billows" takes on a whole new meaning when we are aware of the story behind them; but the basic message is that in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves, the same God who sustained Horatio Spafford and his wife is ready, willing, and able to sustain us as well.

However, it's the third and last verses that touch my heart most.  v.3 reads: "My sin - Oh the bliss of this glorious thought!  My sin, not in part, but the whole is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more.  Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul"  Jesus didn't just take my worst sins; or the sins that I was unaware I'd committed; or a certain percentage of my sins.  He took them all - even those that, in this time-space dimension in which I am living out my mortal life, I have yet to commit!  Because of Him, I am free!

The last verse reads: "But Lord, it's for You - for Your coming we wait.  The sky, not the grave, is our goal.  O trump of the angel, O voice of the Lord!  Blessed hope; blessed rest of my soul."  That's why the true disciple of Jesus does not fear death.  We know that we will immediately pass through the fine barrier that separates time from eternity - and that we will be "forever with the Lord" (I Thess.4:17).

I trust that each and all who read this post have that same assurance, and can sing "It is well, it is well with my soul."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brian,

I have this as the ring tone on my phone.

Bert