Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

05/03/2017

Charles Cash

 

Nearer My God To Thee

“Therefore submit to God.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

(James 4:7-8)

 

  Sarah Flower Adams was a 19thcentury English poet who authored several Christian hymns. She is best known for the beautiful and meaningful hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee.” This hymn has a rich heritage. It was the favorite hymn of President William McKinley, who was assassinated in September 1901. It reportedly brought him a great deal of comfort as he lay dying. According to Dr. M. D. Mann, the attending physician, McKinley sang softly the words of the song and said, “This has been my constant prayer.” On September 19, 1901, the day of McKinley’s funeral, “Nearer My God to Thee” was sung in his memory throughout all the land in congregations both large and small. The song seems to project a sense of difficult times in cross bearing and probably end of life experiences, but we need to draw nearer to God at all times. It goes without saying, the faithful Christian near death’s door will be nearer to God than ever before, and will find a great deal of comfort and solace in that thought. But the thrust of this article is the need to draw nearer to God continually in all of life. The approach is basically this: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

 

  Draw near to God. It is not a difficult thing to do! After explaining to the Athenians what the great creative power of God had wrought, Paul then said: “God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:27-28) God is there. He is always near! We just need to reach out to Him! Draw near! Feel His presence! Everywhere you look in nature you see the signature of God: The starry heavens, beautiful plants and flowers, unique animal life, wondrous ocean life, majestic mountain peaks, radiant sunrises and sunsets, just to mention a few things with God’s signature. Nature has been called “the garment of the living God.” Acknowledge Him! Accept Him! Believe Him! Seek Him!  Tennyson wrote:

 

“Only that which made us, meant us to be mightier by and by,

Set the sphere of all the boundless heavens within the human eye,

Sent the shadow of Himself, the boundless through the human soul,

Boundless inward, in the atom, boundless outward in the whole.”

 

  The more one knows about God the more one will want to seek Him and draw near to Him. Let us all join in with David as he speaks of God: “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; no deeds can compare with Yours. For You are great and do marvelous deeds; You alone are God.” (Psalm 86:5-8,10)

 

  From the song of Moses and Miriam recorded in Exodus 15, we read: “Who among the gods is like You, O Lord? Who is like You—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? (verse 11)

 

  God is good! David wrote: “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.(Psalm 100:5)

 

“I see the wrong that round me lies; I feel the guilt within,

I hear with groan and travail cries, the world confess its sin.

Yet, in the maddening maze of things, and tossed by storm and flood,

To one fixed trust my spirit clings: I know that God is good.”

 

  Our God is faithful! “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassion never fails. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) In Paul’s closing exhortations to the Thessalonians he wrote: “He who calls you is faithful.”  (I Thessalonians 5:24)

 

“God writes with a pen that never blots,

Speaks with a tongue that never slips,

And acts with a hand that never fails.”

 

  “Nearer My God to Thee” is reputed to be the final piece played by the eight musicians on the Titanic as it sank into the ocean on April 14, 1912. Perhaps it brought comfort, strength and peace to some of those on board.

 

  Life is brief, like a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. It is like a snowflake on the river, a moment seen and then lost forever, or a minute valley between two mountain peaks of eternity.

 

  Should we not all make “Nearer My God to Thee” our constant aim and prayer?

 

—CHARLES CASH