Wednesday, February 1, 2012

All the Way My Savior Leads Me

This post is a continuation of a previous post (see HERE). As I mentioned before there is one song that has risen above all others in the last week or so. I shared this special song  and story during the worship service of our old church (Calvary) this past Sunday and now I wish to share it with you... 

A couple weeks ago I described in detail the longest two hours of my life ("Dark Night of the Soul") which I now realize occurred on Friday the 13th (strange?). This was when I thought I had lost Kim (for the 2nd time that week), and at the very least, I was certain the chemo treatment would not work due to her severe infusion reaction. After the "code blue" episode and after the nurses finally administered the heavy pain meds -  Kim was out of it for nearly two hours. As I wrote before, during that time I stood by her bed leaning next to her head and quoted Scripture, wept, prayed, repented and sang softly into her ear. It was the most heart-wrenching and yet most sacred moment I have ever experienced. There's something that happened that night that I had only told a very few people (until this past Sunday). To be honest, I didn't really understand it fully at the time. But let me explain what has unfolded since then. As Kim started to come around  and as her head began to stir - with her eyes remaining closed and from a very dry mouth something remarkable occurred, she uttered her first word.... 

"Cros-beeeeee", she whispered.

"Huh?" I thought.

I leaned closer and asked her to repeat it...

"Crosby..." She repeated softly.

I was completely mystified. I had no idea who she was talking about or what it meant. It was just like that scene right out of the classic film "Citizen Kane" but it wasn't "Rosebud" that was uttered, it was...."Crosby."

My mind was racing. "Bing Crosby? Bill Cosby?

Then it hit me, since I was just singing to her....

"Do you mean Fanny Crosby?"
I asked.

She nodded once.

"Do you want me to sing a Fanny Crosby song?"

Eyes still closed - she nodded slowly again.

For a little background, Fanny Crosby, was a Christian hymn writer who was born in 1820. Due to a physician's error she was rendered blind as an infant, but went on to write hundreds of poems and hymns. That said, the one and only Fanny Crosby song I could think of was "Blessed Assurance" (thanks to my Mississippi Valley Christian School grade school days). So I butchered my way through the first verse and then sang her the chorus. After I finished I was mystified. I had to see what the Lord was doing here and so I pulled out my iPad and googled "Fanny Crosby" and found this link with her bio. When I read the opening quotes I was floored: 
About her blindness, Fanny said: "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.....If I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind...for when I die, the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.
Here was a woman who was cursed by the world's standards - cursed with a wretched blindness. And yet she counted it a great blessing because of what the Lord was able to do through her because of it. She understood her purpose in life and yet her all consuming desire and greatest anticipation was not to see....but only to "see Jesus".
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,  to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. -Psalm 27:4
In much the same way, there my wife lay in the ICU bed in front of me, cursed, in the worlds' eyes, with a wretched disease called cancer. But we are just now beginning to see what the Lord is able to do in and through it, and we pray, like Fanny Crosby, that our consuming desire and greatest anticipation would not ultimately be for healing, but to "see Jesus".

The story doesn't end there. In fact, here is the kicker.....

Kim doesn't really know who Crosby is. No lie. When she was fully alert later that night, and before mentioning anything to her, I asked her if she knew who Fanny Crosby was. She quickly said, "No." Then after some time, she paused and asked "Wait, was she a songwriter?" I told her "yes" but she could not recall a single Fanny Crosby song ever written - even after I had sung one to her. I'm not kidding you. She doesn't even remember saying the word, "Crosby" to me and laughs about it to this day. (Cue the Twilight Zone music)

I was really flummoxed by this. And so the next day - I pulled up a website listing all of Fanny Crosby's songs/hymns to see if she had possibly written another song I was familiar with. For some reason the only song I knew was "Blessed Assurance", and it didn't make sense to me. The lyrics didn't really fit with the moment but I just shrugged it off and basically forgot about it.

Now let's fast forward to about 10 days ago, Saturday (1/21)....
Rich Mullins


Saturday was not a good day. It was Kim's worst day since coming home, and she was feeling extremely tired, sore, and nauseous and none of the meds were helping. She slept away most of the day. We had a lot of family in the house but feeling a bit down, I went to the basement with my guitar to steal a moment in worship. As I was thinking about what song to sing, the first song that came to my mind was "All the Way My Savior Leads Me". It's a song I heard on a Rich Mullins album (The World as Best as I can Remember It - Vol II) many years ago and I fell in love with it. I figured out how to play it back in college and knew it by heart and so after I sang it a couple times I decided to pull it up on my iPad when it hit me....right there on the website...the original writer was not Rich Mullins....it was FANNY CROSBY!!!

I was freaking out. This was the song! In fact, despite my forgetfulness, this song was so special to me that for years I have been telling Kim that if I die before she does, and if anyone comes to my funeral THIS is the song I want played. She would always respond with, "I can't give the eulogy at your funeral. I'll be crying too much." And then a mini-argument would ensue about who would cry more at whose funeral. Anyways, I'd always adamantly conclude with, "Just make sure you play THAT song!" I cannot make this stuff up.

This song has a special place in my heart. If you read and meditate on the lyrics you will better understand what I mean. This Crosby hymn was simply the final product of someone who had lived their whole life walking "by faith and not by sight" (literally). Here are the lyrics:

All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
 

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me strength for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
 

All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;

What a beautiful testimony to the faithfulness of Jesus! No matter what the circumstance, no matter what the trial, there is a holy awareness that Jesus is not only there - but leading every step of the way. Even a blind person could see this. It was the perfect song to describe our recent trial and all these words have taken on a renewed and deeper meaning.

I've always felt that if the character in the Footprints poem were to write a response song - after his epiphany - "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" would be that song.  The poem has become a cliche among Christian circles - but for those unfamiliar:


Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.  -Psalm 77:19

God is always there. He is always watching, and His eyes are always fixed on us. And it's not because He is waiting for us to slip up, or fall down again - it's because He loves us with an unconditional, agape love and He is "cheering each winding path we tread...".

In closing, based on all the above I felt a strong leading to share this song with my old church (Calvary) and now with you. A song that is very near and dear to my heart. I guess for some reason the Lord didn't think my funeral should be the first time this song was shared in public - so again - if you have a high tolerance for bad music....enjoy and God bless.

In His Grace,

Peter & Kim

My ghetto version:

12 comments:

  1. Amazing to hear the Spirit laid Crosby's wonderful words on you on that dark night.

    Psalm 71.3 says: "Be my rock of refuge,to which I can always go; give the command to save me,for you are my rock and my fortress."
    and vs. 19: "Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,you who have done great things.
    Who is like you, God? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.You will increase my honor and comfort me once more."
    And another great hymn from our fathers in the faith:
    How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
    Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
    What more can He say than to you He hath said—
    To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

    Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
    For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
    I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
    Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

    When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
    The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
    For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
    And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

    When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
    My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
    The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
    The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
    I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
    That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
    I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

    Praying daily for you dear brother and sister

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  2. Ryan and Heather(Ahn) BrennanFebruary 1, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    This is amazing and encouraging. Thanks for your steadfast witness and humility. Praying for you, Kim and your family every single day and night.

    Psalm 66:10-12
    For you, O God, have tested us;
    you have tried us as silver is tried.
    You brought us into the the net;
    you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
    You let men ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and through water;
    yet you have brought us out to a place
    of abundance.

    Ryan and Heather(Ahn) Brennan

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  3. Thanks for sharing every step of your journey, Peter and Kim. From the first moment I've been praying Psalm 23 for you. Keep the faith!

    David in Atlanta

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  4. Peter & Kim,
    As I said before, we have not met but I know you from HBC. I have been praying for you especially for your little ones & for complete healing (praying in Armenian- just thought you might find it cool! that God is being reached out, on your behalf in many languages).
    God is near. He has and will be with you all the way. Life is short and for all of us this will pass but He is and will be our everlasting Father who is definition of LOVE and will protect you. You have inspired me to not wait until tomorrow but to use every moment as a gift from His hands-After all is said and done, your testimony will be glorifying & your trail will end, we are not but HE is able to do all things.
    Isaiah 43:2
    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
    With Love, Telma

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  5. Peter, you and Kim are such an inspiration to others!Your love, faith, trust and knowing for, in and of Jesus Christ is such a wonderful testimony! I am praying for Kim's total healing and thanking Him for all the mighty things He is doing daily in your lives! God bless you both abundantly!

    Love and Blessings,
    ~Judy♡~

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  6. It is so amazing to see how the Lord is working through you and Kim every day! Your dedication to report all the ways God is at work in your lives is so encouraging. I am convicted by how often I under appreciate and over look our Lord's mighty blessings everyday! Truly a motivation to keep my eyes open for God's glory and to praise him for every step I take. We continue to pray for you, Kim, the kids and the doctors!

    Love and Prayers,
    Heather

    P.S. I was wondering when your "getto album," pack with songs from this journey, will be released? . . .I want to be first in line!

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  7. What a blessing! Thank you for sharing the immense overflow of God's faithfulness! It is encouragement in the deep places of the soul. "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" is also really dear to my heart and spirit-stirring. God is truly amazing, and it's wonderful how He is showing you Jesus in all these places of the valley, that you can testify of all His rich, lavish love for us! He has placed in our hearts a deep ache for Him, to fellowship with Him in heaven. What an indescribable joy that will be. But to find Him here on earth, in the midst of our longing, is miracle itself. In the darkest moments is when His fellowship is the sweetest.

    God is using your vulnerability and authentic faith to bless so many and give glory to Him. He has given you a great ability to write and articulate in powerful ways. Praise be to God!

    I am praying for you guys!

    Patty
    p.s. I also had the Isaiah 43 passage in my head that someone shared above!

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  8. Hi Peter,
    Thanks for your sharing. I can't begin to tell you how much your family has blessed me and encouraged me to persevere in faith. I love the honesty and vulnerability you show in your writing. You won't believe this, but I actually heard your Rich Mullins rendition in college (I don't remember exactly how I ended up with the cassette tape recording - yea remember those things?) I love how good things come in full circle.

    Sunny

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  9. Thanks Peter for sharing. God at work. You and Kim are such faith builders in the kingdom of God.

    Love you guys.

    Nate and Annie

    Psalm 62

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  10. Hi Peter & Kim! This is Semi, John's wife. I thank and praise our Lord how He is revealed through your trials at this time. I've been sharing prayer requests w/my women's bible study table and they were all blessed by God's steadfast love to you guys as well! We continue to pray that God's victory will be revealed soon in this battle. He already won this battle for you guys! I can't stop crying every time I read blog and John was telling me that "you better pray harder, so that Kim will be healed soon and you will stop crying!." =) God is amazing all the time! May God's full strength and power lift your heart, soul, and body!

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  11. Dear Peter & Kim, This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. My husband and I attend Harvest, saw FB feeds for your family...and just wanted to let you know we are praying for you all. At times moved to tears on your account. You are loved. “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 59:16

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  12. This is great . So touching, inspiring.

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