Posted by: rcottrill | February 17, 2017

I Have Never Lost the Wonder of It All

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Alfred Barnerd (“Al”) Smith (b. Nov. 8, 1916; d. Aug. 9, 2001)
Music: Alfred Barnerd (“Al”) Smith

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Al Smith)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)
Hymnary.org (none)

Note: Rodney Simon (“Gypsy”) Smith (1860-1947) was an English evangelist, born in a Gypsy camp near London. He preached the gospel all over the world. A comment he made inspired this song by Al Smith, an outstanding contributor to Christian music in the mid-twentieth century. The present song may be more of a solo number than one for the congregation, but the story behind it is inspiring.

Many critics rank 1941’s Citizen Kane as the greatest motion picture ever made. It was the creation of a young genius names Orson Welles. Only twenty-five at the time, he wrote much of the screen play, produced and directed the film, chose the cast, and acted in it as the main character, Charles Foster Kane.

The fictional Kane, as a young idealist, became the editor-in-chief of a newspaper. But gradually, as the story unfolds, we witness the deterioration of his character. His life becomes a classic ego trip, with a thirst for wealth and power that tramples any who get in his way.

In one brilliant series of vignettes, Welles shows us Kane at breakfast with his wife, again and again, over a span of time. Those short scenes graphically portray the breakdown of a relationship. From being loving and attentive to one another, the two come to look as though they’re strangers, sitting at the same table, but cold and distant, living in their own separate worlds.

Sadly, that can happen to couples in real life. The happiness and hope of the wedding day can cool over time. Romance withers before the reality of the pressures of life and self-centredness. In Canada, four out of ten marriages end in divorce. Other countries fare worse. In Belgium it is seven out of ten. And, of course, this doesn’t count the number who drift in and out of intimate relationships, without officially getting married.

And something similar can happen to many spiritually, especially as we near the end of this world’s history. The Bible says:

“In the last days…men will be lovers of themselves [selfish and self-centred], lovers of money…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3:1-4).

The Lord Jesus described the days before His return this way: “Lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). Later, in a message sent from heaven, He warns the church at Ephesus, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4; cf. Eph. 1:15).

American evangelist Dwight Moody, and his music director Ira Sankey, held many meetings in Britain. On one occasion, Mr. Moody expressed concern that Gypsies were not allowed to attend. (The reason they were barred was that some were notorious pickpockets, and the whole group was branded with that reputation and excluded.) In light of that, Moody decided to visit the large Gypsy encampment in Epping Forest, near London, and preach the gospel there.

This he did, with a wonderful response. Then, as he and Sankey were leaving, Mr. Sankey’s eyes fell on an eager young boy. He put his hand on the boy’s head, and prayed, “Oh Lord, if this dear boy has never accepted Thee as Saviour, may he do so. And, Lord, make a preacher out of him. Amen.”

Many years went by, and the Lord abundantly answered that prayer. The boy, now a man became an evangelist greatly used of God. Popularly known as Gypsy Smith, he preached to tens of thousands the world over. He visited America many times, and on one occasion, in the first decade of the twentieth century, he asked to see Ira Sankey. That gentleman was now elderly, and nearly blind, but he received his visitor graciously.

“Do you remember,” asked Gypsy, “the time when you and Moody visited the Gypsy camp in Epping forest, and you prayed for a young boy?” Sankey said that he did indeed. And Gypsy replied that he was that boy. “And you know, Mr. Sankey, I never get into the pulpit to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ but that I still feel the pressure of your hand on my head.”

The last time he visited America, then in his eighties, Gypsy Smith met a man around the same age, who said, “Gypsy, I was blessed by your preaching when you first came to America over fifty years ago.” And he asked the secret of the evangelist’s staying power. “Sir,” Gypsy responded, “I have never lost the wonder of it all.”

No cooling of his ardour over time, no sad estrangement from his Saviour. There was a sense of wonder at the glorious grace of God that not only reached out and saved him, but motivated decades of faithful service for his Master. And his comment inspired a gospel song by Alfred Smith (1916-2001), using Gypsy’s words as the title.

1) Once so aimlessly I wandered ‘round the tangled paths of sin.
All about me seemed so hopeless, doubt and fears without, within.
Then a voice so kind and gentle spoke sweet peace unto my soul.
Gone my days of sin and wand’ring, since the Saviour made me whole.

I have never lost the wonder of it all.
I have never lost the wonder of it all!
Since the day that Jesus saved me
And a whole new life He gave me,
I have never lost the wonder of it all!

Questions:
1) What are some wonders that thrill you about the Christian life?

2) What is the reason some Christians seem to lose “the wonder of it all”?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Al Smith)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)
Hymnary.org (none)


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