I love words. Oh! How I love the Words of God Himself on the sacred pages of Scripture.
I love to hear a child tell a story. I love to hear the memories of a saint who has lived well throughout the course of a challenging but fruitful life. I love the lasting power that words give to an ordinary human.
Words at times define us, words propel us, words challenge us, words comfort us, words entertain us, words communicate truth.
How amazing that we serve a God who speaks to us. How miraculous that the intent of God's heart is spoken not only through the beauty of Scripture but also through the messages He gives to each one of us as His beloved children. Our feeble attempts at communication become an object of priceless treasure when we submit our will, our heart and our mind to Him.
One of the repositories of words that has been especially meaningful to me over the years has been the lyrics of the well-loved and time-tested songs of the church. Although I incredulously have found myself in my sixth decade of life, I consider myself to be quite "hip" for my age and never run away from a new song, a fresh lyric or a modern melody. There are lyrics to songs that have been written in the past five years that have touched my soul deeply and have carried me into the presence of God Himself. There are also lyrics to contemporary anthems that have been caused me to shudder theologically.
The power of a song has little to do with chord progression, style or the use of musical instruments. The power and lasting impact of a song is chiefly about the lyrics and therefore the message that is pronounced by the composer and the singers. It is the lyrics that define the theology of a generation.
"Let me write the hymns of the church, and I care not who writes the theology," were the words of R. W. Dale, the great preacher and theologian of the mid-19th century.
The text of a melody has the power to heal a generation and the capability of moving mountains in a person's life. The lines written to a familiar tune hold the possibility of giving direction and of speaking destiny.
The lyrics of a worship song have the soul-stirring reach of turning one's heart back to the Savior. What power indeed.
One of the most significant songs of the church triumphant is this one, written by George Beverly Shea when he was still a teenager. This particular song and these specific lyrics never fail to remind me of my value system and of my personal call this side of heaven.
'I'd Rather Have Jesus'
I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold/I'd rather be His than have riches untold/I'd rather have Jesus than houses or lands,/I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.
Than to be a king of a vast domain/Or be held in sin's dread sway,/I'd rather have Jesus than anything/This world affords today.
I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause;/I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause;/I'd rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,/I'd rather be true to His holy name.
He's fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;/He's sweeter than honey from out of the comb;/He's all that my hungering spirit needs,/I'd rather have Jesus and let Him lead.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books: No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book is Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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