What Have I Surrendered?

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 ESV

It is important to be careful of what we sing in church because not only God is listening but also some of our friends! For example one day after singing “I Surrender All” for our little nursing home group I launched into a short devotional about surrendering to God. Just I was just beginning to warm up one elderly lady sweetly interrupted me and asked; “What have you surrendered?” For a moment I was speechless. I had no idea what to list as to any kind of real suffering I had been through. Her question got me thinking. Sure I had surrendered plenty for the sake of my family; but what had I ever given up because of my faith? Now after many years I confess that I still don’t have a perfect answer but it helps me to remember that even people like James, Stephen and Paul who were martyred also had jobs, family relationships to deal with and bills to pay. They died for their faith in Christ but they also lived a lifetime of surrendering in small details that no one saw but Jesus.

And though most of us may never have to choose to die at the hands of our persecutors we do have a daily choice to make. Will we choose to say every day, “I Surrender All” because no matter what Jesus has surrendered all for us!

Then Sings My Soul

I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4 NLT

It is hard to believe that it has now been almost six months since were able to sing the hymns together at the nursing home. The wing where we held our services has been converted to a Covid-19 isolation ward for those coming back from hospitals throughout our area who are in recovery. Amazingly as of two weeks ago not a single one of the original residents has died. The reopening of nursing homes here in Florida is supposedly on the horizon and though some of my friends may no longer remember me I will wager dollars to donuts that they still remember the words; “Then sings my soul; My Savior God to Thee.” It is one of God’s special miracles that as we sing those old familiar choruses; most have little trouble remembering the hymns as we lift up our voices in praise.

As the last notes fade away remember that what really matters is not how smart we are, how much money we have in the bank; but in how much we matter to God. He has given us His promise to carry us not only during our years of beauty and youth but on through white hair and failing memory. His love is His eternal and unchanging commitment. Even if everyone else forgets us, Jesus remembers. He has promised to carry us for a lifetime no matter where we live and for that we can still sing to Him today! I pray this family version of How Great Thou Art with the Gettys will lift your day and renew your hopes for the time when as God’s family we can share it together again!

God Leads Us Along

When God leads us on paths we have never walked we have an opportunity to learn more about what it means to really trust Him. When my wife’s battle with cancer began it turned both of our lives upside down. Our schedule, our plans and our relationship got thrown into the deep end of the pool. We suddenly had to draw on our faith in ways that we had talked about but had rarely put into practice. It was sink or swim time and on some days I was doing more sinking than swimming.

Now looking back two and a half years I can see God’s gracious love patiently snipping away a thousand loose ends of pride and selfishness. Thank God Nancy came through her surgery,six chemo treatments and physical rehab with flying colors. Now that we find ourselves on strange new path we can look back and see that through every misunderstanding, midnight pain and tearful prayer God has been faithful. Today’s verse reminds us that His grace is not because of our stellar behavior or goodness but for His own name’s sake. I recently heard Lindsay sing this hymn and was reminded that no matter the pathway God always leads us along!