I attended a funeral this weekend of a wonderful young employee of Highland City who passed away far too young (Jill Ballamis). The opening hymn was Nearer My God to Thee. As we sang I was struck by the lyrics
E'en though it be a cross
That raiseth me.
Still all my song shall be
Perhaps it was the nature of the event but I had never considered these words as I sang this hymn or their irony – if we want to be lifted up and nearer to God it often means we need to endure hard things such as being raised up on a cross. When teaching the 5,000 he fed with with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Christ said:
… to them all, If any man will come after me,let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?—Luke 9:23-25
As I get older I’ve discovered that those I admire, those who are incredibly giving, kind, and humble, invariably have experienced trials that could have caused them to be bitter and withdrawn. However, they dealt with them in a way that lifted them to a higher plain and brought them nearer to God.
Below is one of my favorite renditions of Nearer My God to Thee by Vocal Point