Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior

Fanny Crosby is one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 hymns in her lifetime. Just for some perspective, if you stacked 15 hymnals on top of each other, that is all the hymns Fanny wrote in her life time. In fact, on many occasions she would hear a song that she liked, inquire about the author, and then find that it was one of her own. Among her most popular work is Blessed Assurance, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, I Am Thine Oh Lord, and Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior. 

The stories that surround Fanny’s hymns are absolutely incredible. I could go on and on telling you stories about the mighty ways God used Fanny’s music, but I will save most of those for another time.

Before I actually make my point, there are a few other things you need to understand about Frances Jane Crosby. As a young child, she was abandoned by her father and left mostly in the care of her aging grandmother. At her grandmother’s feet, she learned the Word of God. Before she was ten years old, she had memorized the first 5 books of the bible, the gospels, proverbs, song of solomon, and many of the psalms. As an adult, she worked as a teacher and a hymnist. She kept only enough of her income to feed herself, and gave the rest away to the poor. Oh, did I fail to mention that she was blind? Yes. She was blinded as a young child due to negligent medical treatment. Many would contend that Fanny could not see, but I suppose that is up to interpretation. When I read the lyrics to her many hymns, and hear stories about her ministry, I see a woman who had eyes to see what many could not and cannot.

Of her blindness, this is what Fanny had to say, “If I could make one petition, it would be that I would have been born blind. Because when I get to heaven the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my savior.”

This woman did not play around. She was ever hungry for God, yet totally satisfied by his sufficient grace. And this grace is what brought her to sing and speak at a prison in 1868. I’m not sure quite what the prison looked like, but in my mind I am imagining rows of men in shackles and chains, many facing impending death, guilty, desperate, and alone. A plain, poor, blind woman stands in front of them, but she has completely dissolved behind the power and the freedom of her message. She tells them about the freedom that is available even to those in literal chains. People start praying, and the Spirit of God falls in that prayer meeting, as a man looks up and cries out “O, Lord don’t pass me by!” That night, Fanny was so moved by the plea of this man’s heart, that she went home and penned the famous hymn, Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.

Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Let me at Thy throne of mercy
Find a sweet relief;
Kneeling there in deep contrition,
Help my unbelief.

Trusting only in Thy merit,
Would I seek Thy face;
Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
Save me by Thy grace.

Thou the spring of all my comfort,
More than life to me,
Whom have I on earth beside Thee,
Whom in Heav’n but Thee.

There is something so deeply beautiful about all of this. Today, people all over the world, from many different Christian Traditions sing this simple prayer just as that man did on his knees in that prison. This is a prayer of desperation. It pours forth a longing for relief. The heart that earnestly sings this song, is begging for nothing besides God Himself. This is a prayer that is prayed in faith, almost to say “God, do not pass my by, because I know that if I have you, I have all that I need. You are the spring of all my comfort. You are my sweet relief.”

Of course, I am not a prisoner in a cold, lonely jail cell, but I have prayed this prayer many times. In desperation and frustration I have shouted out to God. In weakness and brokenness I have barely uttered this prayer through tears and sniffles. I have laughed this prayer with a shaking head when life just seemed so overwhelming that it was actually funny. Friend, I am here to tell you that it never mattered how or when I prayed it, my God has always been faithful to that prayer. He has never passed me by. Even in the moments when I could barely hear him, I knew he was there. For he is my refuge and my strength; my ever present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). Even a mother may forget the child nursing at her breast, but my God will never forget me (Isaiah 49:15). If there is one thing that I know about the presence of God in my own life, it is that I have never experienced the fullness of God’s Presence apart from prayer.

So, tired, searching, worn out and desperate friend, simply pray. Pray this over your own life. Intercede for loved ones even when it feels like there is no hope. Pray this over our nation in a time when virtue and morality is changing, and religious freedom is threatened. The God who is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore will not pass us by.

Thanksgiving 6/24/15

It’s been a while since I said “thank you” and celebrated the little things in life. So here is goes. Buckle up, people, I live a pretty boring life.

1. “I Pity the Tool” this is a show on the DIY network where I kid. you. not. Mr T does demolition on homes and renovates them. As you can imagine there is a lot of yelling, smashing of hammers, and using terms like “beast mode.” I am watching it in the living room with my dad right now and I can hardly type with the tears rolling down my face. I don’t even have words. For your enjoyment, I have attached a video of the first episode. Grab the kleenex and enjoy my friends. 

2. Starbucks S’mores frappaccino. Judge me for being basic. I can own it. I will gracefully wear the mantle of “basic white girl” if I can do it with a S’mores frappaccino in my hand. Y’all, it is so unreal. You think it’s going to be all layered and way too sweet, but I urge you to try just one. Revolutionary, I tell ya.

smores frap

3. Speaking of being basic….. Taylor Swift. I can hear all you haters. I hear you loud and clear. You can hate hate hate all you want because (yep, you guessed it) I’m just gonna shake shake shake it off. And if you want to make it your mission to convince me that she is not everything I think she is…. just save it. I don’t really want to hear what you have to say. 1989 never wears off. Each song on that album has effectively made it’s round on me at least once. Current fav: “Out of the Woods”, with “You Are In Love” with a close second place.

4.My niece and nephew. This summer, I have had the extreme pleasure of spending time with them three days a week. Being an aunt is really special. You kind of feel like you can claim some ownership of your niece or nephew, but at the end of the day, you get to hand them back in. You look at them differently than you do just any other kid, because in a way, they are yours. My niece and nephew are very special kids with huge hearts and even bigger smiles. My three year-old niece snapped this selfie on my phone the other day, and I promise you I will never ever ever delete it.

paige selfie

5. NETFLIX. My love for thee burns with the white hot intensity of a thousand blazing suns. Okay, not really. BUT, with all the free time I magically have (luv you summer), Netflix has been a close companion. Recently watched list? The Office (always), Friends (duhh), probably two or three chick flicks, and most recently, The West Wing (Ya, it’s growing on me.)

6. Finally, I am thankful for how God found me and rescued me. For a long time I’ve hidden behind masks of performance, good deeds, fake identities. I lived to please others. But God has always been able to see through my masks. God has always known the real me. He sees me and yet he loves me. I will never really be able to understand the limitlessness of his love, but I will take it.