When the alarm on my phone goes off in the wee hours of the morning, a song starts playing next to my pillow:
“As I rise, strength of God, go before, lift me up.
As I wake, eyes of God, look upon, be my sight.”
Before I’m fully awake, I need this prayer. Negative thoughts, worries, and bad attitudes can attack me before my feet even hit the floor.
Then I stumble into my office, light a candle and open up my Bible.
“As I wait, heart of God, satisfy and sustain.
As I hear, voice of God, lead me on, be my guide.”
Some days, as my blurry eyes focus on the Word, it jumps out and grabs me by the neck. Other days, I just look at God and He just looks at me. Both satisfy and sustain.
Then I move into the day with all the lists and obligations and duties.
“As I go, hand of God, my defense, by my side.”
By evening, I am happy to rejoin my pillow and whisper a vesper prayer.
“As I rest, breath of God, fall upon, bring me peace.”
This song has carried me through many, many days. Many, many moments.
“Your life, Your death, Your blood was shed for every moment.”
I started listening to the music of “All Sons and Daughters” three years ago. When I needed a reason to sing, I put “Reason to Sing” on repeat. When I felt poor and powerless, I kept “All the Poor and Powerless” on top of my playlist. I love their music. I love their lyrics.
This duo doesn’t know it, but they need me. I add a third harmony part to their songs every morning in the shower. Duets are great, but in my opinion, three part harmony is glorious.
I guess I’ll leave well enough alone and keep them by my pillow for now.
This week, this is my song:
Written by Leeland and Michael W. Smith. Recorded by Leslie Jordan and David Leonard.
The title caught my eye. “It Is Not Death to Die” — what an intriguing phrase. I jotted the words down on a slip of torn-off notebook paper and stuck it in my pocket. When pondering a thought, that’s what I do. I seem to need to carry ideas in my pocket for awhile. They roost in there, like a hen on her eggs, waiting for an insight to hatch.
Through the morning I argued with the short sentence that captured my thoughts. Of course dying is death, I say to the paper in my pocket. The final exhale, the last look before closing the eyes, the heartbeat halted — that’s death. That’s what it is to die. Right?
In the afternoon I had to know more. A little research revealed the origin of the words. In 1832, 60 year old Henri Abraham Cesar Malan wrote a hymn titled, “Non, Ce N’est Pas Mourir”. Fifteen years later, George Bethune translated the French lyrics into English and the song found it’s way into 126 hymnals. One hundred and sixty years later, Sovereign Grace Music recorded the hymn with a new tune. I think Henri would approve.
By the evening, I was sitting at my piano singing a song that made its way from my pocket to my heart. I got it. Dying is not death in the sense that there is nothing more but blackness and non-existence. Paul said that to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8) Jesus said, “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25)