At Calvary

As I carried a cup of tea from the kitchen to my digital piano, gentle rays of sunset landed on my hymnal, beckoning me to take this photo. It seems to me that such moments are a fleeting taste of heaven, where the undying light of our Lord Jesus will illuminate all as we sing His praises so lovingly.

I began to play “At Calvary”, a hymn I have always rendered in a slow, gentle manner, but which until tonight had not worked through my fingertips in years. As I read the words I’d sung so many times, really read them, by the second verse I stopped playing, overcome by emotion. I took a sip of tea and read on, but couldn’t swallow for tears.

“It’s about me,” I thought. “Oh, how this song is about me. How did I not see this before?”

I thought about the hour I first believed, back in 1987, reliving my conversion from doomed sinner to saved saint. I finally swallowed my tea and thanked the Lord out loud. 

1. Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.

Refrain:

Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

2. By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.

Refrain

3. Now I’ve given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary!

Refrain

4. Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!

Refrain

And Can It Be…?

Such a beautiful hymn, set to beautiful scenes of God’s creation, gently spurs me all the more onward to heaven where neither thorn, nor darkness, nor impending death can ever detract from the eternal enjoyment of fellowship as it was meant to be in all its perfection.

Watch and listen: And Can It Be?

And Can It Be?

Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788 

Music: Thomas Campbell 

1. And can it be that I should gain 
an interest in the Savior’s blood! 
Died he for me? who caused his pain! 
For me? who him to death pursued? 
Amazing love! How can it be 
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? 
Amazing love! How can it be 
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? 

2. ‘Tis mystery all: th’ Immortal dies! 
Who can explore his strange design? 
In vain the firstborn seraph tries 
to sound the depths of love divine. 
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; 
let angel minds inquire no more. 
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; 
let angel minds inquire no more. 

3. He left his Father’s throne above 
(so free, so infinite his grace!), 
emptied himself of all but love, 
and bled for Adam’s helpless race. 
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free, 
for O my God, it found out me! 
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free, 
for O my God, it found out me! 

4. Long my imprisoned spirit lay, 
fast bound in sin and nature’s night; 
thine eye diffused a quickening ray; 
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; 
my chains fell off, my heart was free, 
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free, 
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

5. No condemnation now I dread; 
Jesus, and all in him, is mine; 
alive in him, my living Head, 
and clothed in righteousness divine, 
bold I approach th’ eternal throne, 
and claim the crown, through Christ my own. 
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne, 
and claim the crown, through Christ my own. 

An Obscure But Poignant Hymn

I saw these words on the facebook wall of a friend.  The words are meaningful to me.  I post them for quick reference and to share in case they bless others:

A mind at perfect peace with God!
Oh what a word is this!
A sinner reconciled through blood
This, this indeed is peace!

By nature and by practice far
How very far from God!
Yet now by grace brought near to Him
Through faith in Jesus blood!

So near, so very near to God,
I cannot nearer be!
For in the person of His Son
I am as near as He!

So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be!
The love wherewith He loves the Son
Such is His love to me!

Why should I ever careful be,
Since such a God is mine?
He watches o’er me might and day
And tells me Mine is thine!

 

Farther Along

Video

Listening to this song, I think of my friend who has also been my family doctor for many years. He is the most compassionate and wise person I have ever met.

He was my friend before he was my doctor.

He is still my friend before my doctor.

When I was in the process of leaving the ex, my friend was there for me when everyone else in the church fellowship turned against me.  Even my friend’s wife, who I had thought was my friend, turned on me.

He prayed for me.  He heard my cries.  He wished me happiness.  He told me he loved me.  Oh, not in an inappropriate way – just the love of a brother in Christ, as it ought to be.

As he stitched up my face a few months ago, my doctor friend asked me if I’d like to study the book of Job with him sometime. We never did get around to it, both of us having such busy lives, but maybe we will someday.

If you ever read this, my dear friend and brother in Christ, this song is for you, because I know you like it.

Farther Along

Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all day long
While there are others living about us
Never molested though in the wrong

When death has come and taken our loved ones
It leaves our home so lonely and drear
Then do we wonder why others prosper
Living so wicked year after year

Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand it all, by and by

Faithful ’til death, said our loving Master
A few more days to labor and wait
Toils of the road will then seem as nothing
As we sweep through the beautiful gates

Grace Greater Than All Our Sin

Video

I love how hymns pop into my mind at random.

Before I had to work so much, when I cooked every day, I would sometimes have a hymnal open on the kitchen counter, learning the words, feeling peace (as long as the abusive ex wasn’t home).

Other times, I’d go to my digital piano, play a part and sing the harmony to it.

As a side effect, my kids memorized the words to those hymns by hearing me.

In retrospect, I learned some hymns from hearing my own mother sing, even though they didn’t take on meaning until I became a Christian at age 20.

I don’t know these people who are singing this hymn, but they bring back sweet memories of crackin’ out the guitars and harmonizing with my sisters and brothers in Christ.

Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sin

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Refrain

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Refrain

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Refrain

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Refrain