Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In shady, green pastures

    1. This song has been with me all day. Actually it is one of my favorite songs... but today  I listened to Lester Roloff sing it.

      In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
      God leads His dear children along;
      Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
      God leads His dear children along.
    2. Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
      God leads His dear children along;
      Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
      God leads His dear children along.
    3. Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
      God leads His dear children along;
      Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
      God leads His dear children along.
    4. Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
      God leads His dear children along;
      Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
      God leads His dear children along.

    George Young was a carpenter, and a preacher of the gospel. In the late nineteenth century he labored in obscurity, serving small rural areas in the United States. Today, there is not even a reliable record of the dates of his birth and death. (A guess would be approximately 1855 and 1935, respectively.) Often his income was so small he had difficulty supporting his wife and family. Even so, he kept on diligently serving the Lord.

    Finally, after a great deal of effort and years of sacrifice, the Young's were able to move into a small house they had built for themselves. All were delighted with the new place, but tragedy soon overtook them. While George was away holding meetings in another community, some ruffians who were hostile to the gospel he preached set fire to the Young’s home burning it to the ground.

    In 1903, George Young published a hymn for which he wrote both words and music. It is a testimony to his faith in God, in spite of this severe trial. It depicts different kinds of circumstances and experiences we face in life, with a reminder that the Lord provides for us in them all. The opening stanza paints a lovely picture, reminiscent of the 23rd Psalm. But the author was well aware that not all of life is like that. The song’s refrain gives a more sobering view of life’s trials.
    “Some through great sorrow.” It’s believed this is a reference to Young’s own experience. He had learned, through painful loss that “God…gives songs in the night” to those who trust in Him (Job 35:10). And through it all, whether in good times or bad, the Lord continues to “lead His dear children along.”
    There is an interesting P.S. to this story. Around 1942, hymn writer Haldor Lillenas (The Bible Stands; Wonderful Grace of Jesus) decided to track down George Young’s widow, and find out more. He got an address in a small town and, driving there, he stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. When the attendant saw the address, he said, “Why sir, that’s the County Poor House up the road about three miles. And mister, when I say poor house, I really mean poor house!”

    Not knowing what to expect, Lillenas made his way there. He found Mrs. Young, a tiny, elderly woman, in surroundings that were far from congenial. However, she radiated the joy of the Lord, and spoke of how He’d guided her and her husband over many years. Then, she exclaimed, “Dr. Lillenas, God led me here!” I’m so glad He did, for you know, about every month someone comes into this place to spend the rest of their days….So many of them don’t know my Jesus. I’m having the time of my life introducing them to Jesus! Dr. Lillenas, isn't it wonderful how God leads!”

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