Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Godly Life

Not long after we were married, the church we attended at that time was privileged to have George Beverly Shea in concert for a Sunday night service. He was in his early 80's at the time. (He will celebrate his 100th birthday on February 1, 2009!)

I've always loved to hear him sing. One of my favorite memories of childhood is playing his Christmas album -- a 33 1/3 rpm record! (which you young gals have only seen in the antique stores, I'm sure!) But aside from enjoying his music, one thing stands out crystal clear in my mind from that Sunday night 18 or so years ago.

His face.

He absolutely glowed with kindness, peace, love--and yes, beauty--that reflected a lifetime of walking with God. It was so striking that my husband mentioned it as well, and I remember it to this day. Whether on the platform or one-on-one afterwards, he radiated and reflected Christ. I think he's probably the godliest man I have ever met.

There are several songs that many consider his "trademark" songs, some of which he wrote. One such song is "I'd Rather Have Jesus." He actually composed the music for that song, and talked about it in an interview here at the age of 92:
You composed "I'd Rather Have Jesus" when you were 23. How did that happen? My mother had been to a meeting in New York City and brought me a poem written by Rhea F. Miller, "I’d Rather Have Jesus." On a Sunday morning, with the poem in front of me, I sat down at the piano, and the melody came to my heart and mind. When I finished that first verse and chorus, Mother, with tears in her eyes, came from an adjoining room, and put her arms around me. She had wanted that poem to have an effect on my life, and it seemed that after that morning better things happened all along the way.

Here is a video from 1987 of him singing this song. (This was probably 2-4 years before he was at my church.) The lyrics are listed below. He does not sing the final verse on this occasion, but I have included it for your reflection. It's obvious that these are not just empty words to him, but the heartfelt testimony of his life.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway,
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

For more songs for your Saturday, head on over to Signs, Miracles, and Wonders.


View blog reactions


Ginger said...

What an awesome testimony, to be praising God in song when you're 80

So many people these days think that they can rest when they get older, and don't have to continue to serve God as passionately! I sure don't want to be that way. Thank you for posting this!

Becoming Me said...

That is such a beautiful song and such a wonderful testimony he has.

Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

That is a great classic! Love it! I love your blog look too!

Xandra said...

Oh my goodness...he sounds just like my grandfather! It made me cry to hear his voice. I love this song, especially the chorus. Thanks for sharing!


Andrea said...

Ahhh...refreshing, that song is an oldie and goodie!!!

Sarah said...

We sing that in church all the time, and now I know the story, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Wow Memories,. . . Thank you:)

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

beautiful. This is my theme song..


kmom3 said...

We actually just sang this at church recently! Such a woderful song! Thanks for sharing it and for sharing about Mr.Shea!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that! I am certain George Beverly Shea never imagined that people could listen to him on a blog, with a You Tube video! :)
Love the lyrics to that song.

Anonymous said...

Love this song and love to hear that man sing it. I have noticed the same thing about his face. Makes me think of Ecclesiates where it says the wisdom of God makes our faces shine! When someone has been with the Lord, it definitely shows!


Melanie said...

This hymn is so lovely and shows such a true commitment to the Lord when we can sing it and mean it. Truly words on which to meditate and pray.

A Stone Gatherer said...

What memories that song brings back! I remember my dad singing it and having his fist clinched in passion for His Lord! Thanks Linda! I'm crying, but it's a good cry!

Carole said...

Linda, thank you for posting the story about a song I have loved all my life. Listening to the video, you get the impression that he means every word that he sings.

And yes, I also played those 33 1/3 rpms as a child!

Jenifer said...

I love this song. Just give me some Jesus! That's all I want.


The Herd said...

I came over through CWO--very cute blog...enjoying your postings.

Amy Wyatt said...

Wow... what memories you brought back with this song today! My great grandmother used to play and sing this song all the time when I was little and I haven't heard it in a long time! I love it. Thank you for sharing it. I would rather have Jesus than anything too. What an awesome testimony he has.

Linda said...

I do indeed remember him. I think of him as one of the last greats of the faith of the 20th Century.

Sandy said...

Hi Linda - I grew up with GBS, too. And I love that song! I can't believe he is going to be 100, but he did seem old when I was little - LOL.