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Words: Edward John (“Jack”) Rollings (b. _____, 1926; d. _____, 2001)
Music: Edward John Rollings
Note: Jack Rollings, a former police officer, became an evangelical pastor, serving the Lord in Detroit. One resource says he helped Billy Graham organize his “Motor City Campaign,” in 1953. He was also musical, and played the trumpet but, as far as I know, this is the only published song that comes from him. Hymnary.org appears to credit the song to E. J. Bollinger, and at the present time I have no explanation for that.
E ach of us has been on the receiving end of advice at one time or another. Perhaps when we had to make an important decision, or when we were involved in some difficult experience. Occasionally, it helped. But sometimes the advice is just plain wrong.
For example, the following advice might be dangerous: “You don’t need a doctor for that, you’ll be fine.” Or, “No, my dog won’t bite. Go ahead and pet him.” Or, “You don’t need an electrician. You can do it yourself.” Or, “Gun it! You can beat the train to the crossing.”
The problem with such advice is those giving it may not have the knowledge required to do so–they only think they do. Or they may not have an awareness of our particular and unique circumstances. And too often those most free with their advice are not ones who’ll have to deal directly with the consequences afterward. Sophocles, a dramatist in ancient Greece, said, “No enemy is worse than bad advice,”
The Lord had promised to give the nation of Israel a homeland, by enabling them to conquer the land of Canaan and make it their own. They camped at Kadesh Barnea, to the south, and twelve spies were sent in the check out the land. When the spies returned, they spoke of what they’d seen. But ten of the twelve gave a very negative report.
They said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we….There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Num. 13:31, 33). Two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, counseled moving ahead, and called the people to put their faith in God (Num. 13:30; 14:8). But it was in vain. The people took the bad advice of the ten, and refused to obey God.
That raises a question: Where are we to look for good advice, spiritual counsel and assistance we can count on? The answer, first and foremost is: It’s in the Word of God. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path…. The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Ps. 119:105, 130).
Then there’s prayer. We can find help and direction at the throne of God. There, seated at the right hand of God the Father is the risen, glorified Christ. In His incarnation He dealt with similar challenges and obstacles to those we face. With a prophet’s eyes, Isaiah saw Him as, “despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). And Matthew speaks of the Lord’s compassion for the multitudes (Matt. 9:36).
Of today we read of Him:
“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).
Pastor Jack Rollings often preached about how the Lord could sustain and help us in times of trial. But when difficulties hit him personally, his faith was shaken for a time. Doubts arose, and he questioned whether God really cared about what was happening to him.
It was a letter from a fellow pastor named A. P. Gouthrey that helped to restore his confidence in the Lord. His friend said he’d heard about Jack’s troubles, and was praying for him. He assured the struggling servant of God that even in the darkest times, the Lord is there. He wrote, “Sstanding somewhere in the shadows you’ll find Jesus.” That statement struck Pastor Rollings forcefully. Even in the dark time he’d been going through, the Lord was present, and could minister graciously to him.
He not only regained his spiritual balance, but determined to turn the encouraging words into a song. Though I don’t know exactly what it was that Rollings went through, perhaps there are hints of it in his song, which speaks in the second stanza of “deep disappointment, and trusts that have proven untrue.” The reference to the nail prints in the hands of Christ, in the last line of the refrain, reminds us that the Lord too has suffered and He understands.
1) Are there crosses too heavy to carry,
And burdens too heavy to bear?
Are there heartaches and tears and anguish
And no one who seems to care?
Standing somewhere in the shadows you’ll find Jesus;
He’s the Friend who always cares and understands.
Standing somewhere in the shadows you will find Him,
And you’ll know Him by the nail-prints in His hands.
1) Is there something you are going through just now that has shaken your faith?
2) What can you do to restore your confidence in God?