Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is it well?

I am unusual I think. I like to know what I am singing...what are the lyrics saying? I mean...what do they really mean? And...who wrote it? Was there a reason why? So today we sang at Church the hymn "It is Well With My Soul." It seems to me that when I have heard it sung...people seem to belt it out more than other hymns, well, unless we are talking Amazing Grace (another blog for another time.) When I read the lyrics though...I find truth that is not often otherwise agreed upon: We have a guy saying basically...."in good times or bad times that are outside of my control (lot), whatever comes my way...God has taught me to say that it is fine with me." Bad times are fine for us? We quote Romans 8:28...but usually when we want to feel better, not when we want to think of 8:29 and realize that for our good to be made more like Christ can include quite a bit of life's crap to make us that way. Some hymnals have three verses, some have the whole kit and kaboodle. Here are the total lyrics: It Is Well With My Soul 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. Refrain: It is well, with my soul, It is well, with my soul, It is well, it is well, with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: If Jordan above me shall roll, No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life, Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul. But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait, The sky, not the grave, is our goal; Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord! Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul. Horatio Spafford So...who is Horatio Spafford? Why did this guy write this hymn? This hymn that strikes at the heart of how we are saved, what are goal for life is, and how to handle whatever comes our way? Here is what I found after a quick internet search, you can find much more (including an interesting talk between his daughter and Elisabeth Elliott): Mr. Spafford was a successful attorney in Chicago. The great Chicago fire did him in financially....he was heavily invested in real estate. (His only son had died before the fire as age four.) While trying to figure out details, he sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him to England, selecting that destination because Spafford was wanting to see/hear Dwight L. Moody preach there. He changed their tickets, he was not sure why, but the ship they were travelling in was hit, and sunk in 12 minutes...over 200 people died. Spafford's wife was rescued, unconscous found floating in the ocean, but all four daughters had died. Had he not moved their ticket location...they would have been directly where the ship was hit and all likely would have died. She sent him back a wire..."Saved alone." On his way to meet his wife...supposedly after passing by the very location where the tragedy happened, he wrote the lyrics to the song. He went on to eventually live in Jerusalem working with a mission, and had two more children with his wife, and eventually died of malaria. Re-read the lyrics...can you see a different light to accepting what comes your way? Can you see a father waiting in faith to see his children again at God's side? Can you see someone so focused on his sin, his separation, and Christ's every movement that made reconcilliation possible...above everything else that might be going on around him? No wonder it is a classic...a real life story, a life exuding faith, and an exhortation to us all.

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