Tag Archives: Music

‘Tis So Sweet

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, and to take Him at His Word; just to rest upon His promise, and to know, “Thus says the Lord!”

I have decided to once again share one of my favorite hymns; this one seems especially fitting considering the place I find myself in presently. It has been posited that many of the greatest songs of encouragement were born out of pain and personal tragedy; Tis So Sweet is one such song.

It was written by Louisa Stead in 1882, after a very tragic event. While not much is known about Mrs. Stead, historians have been able to discover that Louisa married her husband in 1875 and to their union was born a daughter, Lily. One day the family decided to enjoy a day at the beach on Long Island, New York. While enjoying their family time they heard cries of help and spotted a  boy who was drowning. Mr. Stead jumped into the water to attempt to rescue this boy. Unfortunately, both the boy and Mr. Stead drowned. The words of this hymn were written over the course of Louisa’s struggle with God after this tragedy.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

I can easily admit that I have not always found it easy to trust anyone, including God! I haven’t always been able to see God’s active hand in my life, which caused me to doubt that all things were working together for my good! Being able to trust God when you are  not able to trace God, is often easier said than done! I’ve seemingly done everything that I was “supposed” to have done, said all of the right things; yet, things still seem to be falling apart all around me. I recall the words of the hymn writer, “Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease; just from Jesus simply taking life and rest, and joy and peace.” I don’t have to search for peace, joy, happiness, or love in anyone else; I simply must trust the God who gives peace that surpasses all understanding.

Despite my situations and circumstances, and in spite of the mistakes that I’ve made, I will continue to trust God. Even when others have meant to do me harm, or wanted to see me fail; God has always meant it for my good! So I now can freely sing: I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; and I know that Thou art with me, will be with me to the end.

Make It Plain

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It is Well!

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

I am a lover of music in every form, and from every genre. My deepest love though is gospel music and most specifically the hymns I grew up hearing in church and at home. During my childhood, and most of my life, my mother was the musician at the church where we were members. (This predated the term Minister of Music!) Often, my mom would have moments where she would go to the piano and just begin to play whatever songs were in her heart and her spirit. This was a time for my mother to celebrate and reflect on the relationship that she had with God, expressed through the music and talent that God had given to her.

One such hymn I remembered her singing was the one that I quoted, “It is Well!” While I sung the song in my childhood, it was not until I had reached adulthood that I truly begin to understand and really appreciate this hymn. While at the Interdenominational Theological Center, I rediscovered my love for not only hymns, but the stories behind the penning of these songs.

“It is Well,” was written by Horatio Gates Spafford in 1873. Spafford was a lawyer in Chicago who experienced three traumatic events in his life within a three-year period. In 1870, his only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed all of his real estate holdings which ruined him financially. In 1873, the Spaffords decided to journey to England for a holiday and to meet with the great evangelist, Dwight L. Moody. Circumstances arose, and Mr. Spafford was delayed but decided to send his wife, and their four daughters ahead of him. On November 2, 1873, the ship that Mrs. Spafford and her daughters was traveling on collided with another ship. Two hundred and twenty-six people lost their lives, including all four of the Spafford’s daughters. After receiving word from his wife about the tragedy, Horatio set sail to go and meet his wife. On the journey, they passed  the spot where the collision had taken place. After seeing the spot, Horatio returned to his room and penned the words to this hymn.

I cannot imagine Horatio Spafford’s pain at the tragedies in his life, yet I can agree that life has dealt me some tough blows. I have encountered tragic events in life that were both undeserved and unexpected. I haven’t always understood the deaths of those whom I have loved. Neither have I understood the betrayals of people whom I have considered closer than friends. I am not always able to recognize God’s active hand in my life; truthfully, I have often questioned if God was even moving on my behalf. When I consider the trouble that I have faced; the situations that seemingly haven’t turned out for my good, it makes me question. Yet through it all I have discovered that God has never left me alone; God has been right there with me!

In spite of all life’s turmoil and no matter what may come my way, I have found strength in the words of this hymn. Through it all, It is Well! In it all, It is Well! In spite of hurt and pain, It is Well! With tears in my eyes, It is Well! When people enter my life, It is Well! When people leave my life, It is Well! Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, IT IS WEll, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!

Make It Plain!

Celibacy Blues

This is my story, I’m sticking to it, and I swear to tell the truth; so help me God. The title of this post is taking from a song by the talented Ms. Jill Scott. Sidebar: Yes, I listen to “secular” music and yes, I’m still called of God. Now back to the issue at hand. In this song Jill laments the struggle of being celibate at that point in her journey. I always chuckle at the innuendo laced lyrics, yet I also can relate to the frustrated undertones of this song. Ms. Jill writes this song from the viewpoint of one who had been an active participant in sexual matters but who had decided to refrain from these activities for a set amount of time. This period of celibacy has led to an inability to deal with the stresses of life, and has caused her to lament, “This here celibacy thing is workin’ on me.”

Once again I’m using this song to echo the sentiments of my heart. It is not a secret to those who know me that I am a 29-year-old virgin. While most people applaud this fact, others choose not to believe me upon first discovery. Either way this fact is not equal to the totality of my being, instead it is a chapter in the book that is my life. I don’t spend every waking moment with Sex (or the lack thereof) on my mind. Nor, am I constantly touting the benefits of abstinence like some of my evangelical brothers and sisters. Most days, it is not something I think, or even talk about. Yet, there are times when like Ms. Jill, I find it hard to sleep at night, and I’m consumed with this “gangsta type of need.” Well meaning people have told me, “you can’t miss something that you’ve never had,” and while that may be true, I know what it feels like to have a need that I can’t meet; a hunger, taste, and a thirst. I know some will question the decision to not meet this ever-present need, but I’ve decided to wait!

As much as I long…at this point in my journey I can’t imagine giving myself to some random man. I don’t want to be another notch on the belt, or to regret my actions when daylight breaks; I need it to matter to him almost as much as it will matter to me. I haven’t always wanted to be a virgin, and at one point had made up my mind to rid myself of this burden (my mindset at that time). I met a man who was interested and excited about being my “first,” and consented to go for it. Yet, even in the midst of the act I couldn’t do IT. I felt I should be more important than to lose myself at some no-tel where you paid for the room by the hour. I made him stop, I am GRATEFUL to this very day that he didn’t try to force anything, instead stopping when I asked. Since that day I vowed to save myself until I marry. This vow has not been easily kept, and some days I have sworn that I was going to break the vow; yet I’m still holding on! I press on minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day.

I have a support system of family and friends who pray for me, and keep me accountable. They allow me to talk out my frustrations, and basically just support me. I choose not to linger over what I’m not doing, instead focusing on loving God and living life. I admit to days where I don’t want to hear people tell me to wait when they don’t know what I’m experiencing. Those are the days where I can’t do anything else but hold on; yes, those are the days where I sing, “this here celibacy thing is workin’ on me!”

Make It Plain

Favor

…reigns on my life! Simple lyrics taken from a song written by Pastor John P. Kee, and sung by LeJuene Thompson, are now blessing my life so immensely. People who know me are aware that I am not overly emotional, nor am I one known to easily cry! Yet, every time I hear this song and even as I sit to write this blog, I become overwhelmed with feelings of gratefulness. I realize that people may not understand why this particular subject brings me joy, but let me see if I can explain this to you!

Often people who know my story (I promise one day I will share), automatically assume that I have never done things that I regret. Yet, when I look back at the times when I almost let go; what if he hadn’t taken NO for an answer! When I reminisce on one October night when a man didn’t stop at the red light, and completely totaled my car. I remember hearing the witness say, “I’ve already called the police because I knew that the person in this car was dead.” When I consider all the things I do that I know I should not do, and all the things I say that tear others down. When I think about all the times that I caved to the pressures of others even when I knew I should have been the example, and yet God has never allowed my life to be fodder for the evening news! I recognize the awesome Favor of God that continues to rule over my life.

In light of the things that I have said, and even some of the things that I could not say I recognize that some may see this as unfair. Actually, I totally agree with you! I do not know why God has chosen my life to be favored, yet I am so thankful! It is for this reason that I try now, in all I say or do, to honor God! You can call me deep, if you so desire, but I know that it was God who rescued me out of that horrible pit.

So, I echo the words of this song: “When my life rejected destiny your favor came and rescued me! I thank God always for FAVOR!