(Mike Eder video)
A few months before my decision to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of my life, I was given the opportunity to sing several of the old hymns of the faith as a soloist in our Baptist church in Ontario. One particular hymn had an intense impact on my decision to take a leap of faith for Jesus.
Here’s how “Love Lifted Me” changed me forever. At the time, I had no idea that the song gained popularity only a few years earlier in 1975 when country artist Kenny Rogers sang an abbreviated version of the Christian hymn originally published in 1912.
Interestingly, a few years before Rogers launched out on his solo career after leaving The First Edition, I had the pleasure to actually meet him face-to-face and carry on a short conversation on his horse ranch in Calabasas. At the time, I was working for Pacific Telephone and received a call to meet with a customer.
We met at his property and had a delightful discussion about the cost of installing a simple rotary phone in the barn. Wisely, Rogers decided against digging a ditch from the main road to his barn or the only other alternative of placing telephone poles from the road to the barn.
Iremember his wry smile and sweet disposition as he told me that he and his Appaloosas would be just fine without the phone.
At the time, I had no religious interests at all and had no idea where Rogers stood on the subject. What I do know is that his first solo hit would later touch me in a very special way.
Let me share the first verse of the song: “I was sinking deep in sin / Far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more; But the Master of the sea / Heard my despairing cry. From the waters lifted me / Now safe am I.”
The chorus continues “Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help / Love lifted me. Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help / Love lifted me.” Learning the words to that song and performing it in front of several hundred people was a memorable experience.
What I took away from the performance was a deeper understanding of God’s genuine love of those who trust in Him. A few months later, after portraying Jesus in an Easter musical, I came forward in that church and confessed my need for a Savior. You can say that the love of Jesus and the congregation lifted me out of my sinful ways.
The second verse of the original version deleted from Rogers’ shortened version is worth mentioning as well: “All my heart to Him I give, Ever to Him I’ll cling. In His blessed presence live, Ever His praises sing. Love so mighty and so true / Merits my soul’s best songs; Faithful loving service, too, To Him belongs.”
Those words still resonate in my soul as I reflect on God’s goodness and mercy in the life of this sinner.
These days I still savor singing those old hymns of the faith, which I know came directly from Old and New testament scriptures. Those solemn words were designed by God to strengthen His people in their times of need.
If you are going through a difficult time, let me suggest you check out some of those old hymns of the faith. Consider reading them out loud as poetry, and let them lift you up and draw you closer to the only Source that can place you on the path to a peaceful and purposeful existence.
Passages to Ponder
— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.