“Because He Lives,” the worship song inspired by a blade of grass.

Bill and Gloria Gaither met when they both began teaching high school In Alexandria, Indiana. Bill had a background in Gospel music and Gloria had been an English major in college. They began meeting to share ideas about songs, started dating, and were married in 1962. It wasn’t long before their careers shifted from teaching to music full-time.

However, the 1960’s were chaotic and the major shifts in morals and values was upsetting to the Gaithers. They even began to wonder if God had decided to turn the world over to its own devices. 1969 was a particularly bleak season for Bill and Gloria. The “God is Dead” philosophy was spreading across the nation, Indiana experienced an extremely hard winter, Bill was struck with a severe case of mononucleosis, and Gloria experienced some painful false accusations from within her church family. In the midst of this pain and suffering, Gloria learned that she was pregnant. Even though, they were happy, they both wondered if it was wise to bring an innocent baby into such a hard world.

In early spring of that same year, Bill’s father George was visiting Bill and Gloria and called their attention to a small blade of grass that had pushed through the layers of dirt, rock, and concrete to reach the sunlight. That blade of grass had such a strong will to live that it inspired Gloria to write a song expressing the hope that was shaped by the resurrection of Jesus. She wrote these words:

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus; He came to love, heal, and forgive. He lived and died to buy my pardon; An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives…

How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives; But greater still, the calm assurance: This child can face uncertain days because He lives...

And then one day, I’ll cross that river. I’ll fight life’s final war with pain, But then as death gives way to victory, I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives...

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know, He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Click here to check out a cool version of the song from Crowder, Johnnyswim, and Tori Kelly recorded for the Easter Service of Passion City Church. 

*Photo courtesy of Bruno Martins and Unsplash

A Big Liar

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I’ve never really thought of myself as a liar, but maybe I am.

Many years ago, I was living in post Soviet Central Asia. I walked into a department store of sorts and was suddenly greeted by the familiar voice of Whitney Houston.  

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong.” 

The music echoed down the aisles and drew me into a time of worship. At the time, I wasn’t attending a corporate worship service in English, so the music ministered to me deeply. My eyes teared up as I mouthed the words and wished it would last forever. 

There was a brief break between songs. I expected another familiar praise song or hymn of worship. Instead, she belted out another song.

“I got the stuff that you want, I got the thing that you need”

Yes, Jesus is all we need, but that wasn’t what she was implying.

My personal worship time ended and I felt myself, with self righteous indignation, thinking “Whitney Houston is a big liar. She didn’t mean what she was singing.”

I’ve come to understand two things about that day:

First, I had no reason to judge. I don’t know what’s in her heart.

Second, I’m the one who’s the big liar. I lie every week, sometimes multiple times a week, especially when I’m gathered together with the people of God. 

But I’m not alone.

A.W. Tozer once wrote, “Christians don’t tell lies. They just go to church and sing them.”

When I first heard that quote, I thought, “Surely that doesn’t mean me. How can it when I’ve given my life to serve the Lord, to praise Him, to make His name glorious and bring people into His kingdom.”

But have I really done that? I’m not sure. 

Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

Have I honestly given up my own way? Have I taken up my cross and followed Jesus completely? 

I’ve sang “All to Jesus, I Surrender. All to Him I freely give” while never really surrendering everything. Sometimes, I’ve hardly surrendered anything.

I’ve sang “Jesus, be the center of my life” while making myself the center of attention.

I’ve sang “I will build my life upon Your love” while never showing love to anyone but myself.

Augustine of Hippo once said, “Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all.” 

Do I really value Jesus above all? Is He really the Lord of my life or is it just something I say and sing because it makes me sound spiritually important? When all is said and done, would I really choose Jesus over myself? I hope so, but my track record does give me reason to doubt.

Photo courtesy of Tajmia Loiacono of Unsplash