Jump Start # 2738
John 14:3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Recently in our weekly podcast (“Heaven Bound”) Jason and I took a look at three hymns that are connected to thankfulness. In that series, we talked about the history of that particular hymn and at the end of the broadcast, we played that song. We both enjoyed doing that and the reception was well received.
Coming off of that, I thought I would write a short series about hymns that have been important to me. Unlike our podcasts, I cannot play the hymn for you. And, the only connection this little series will have is that I like these hymns. There are so many wonderful songs and singing is a valuable part of our worship to God. Singing is something we all can do. You may not sing well, but you can sing. Singing is something we can do alone as well as surrounded in an auditorium full of people. Singing can change our moods and remind us of great eternal truths. What a joy it is to sing hymns!
Near the top of the list of my favorite hymns is: “In the sweet by and by.” It’s a hymn that looks forward to Heaven. In time, or as the hymn states, “in the sweet by and by” we shall meet on that beautiful shore. It’s a hymn that encourages us onward. By and by we shall be there.
The history of this hymn is a great story. The music was written by Joseph Webster. He was known to have great bouts with depression and darkness. The lyrics were written by Fillmore Bennett. The story takes place in Wisconsin, where Bennett was working as a pharmacist. Bennett and Webster knew each other and had worked on other projects together. As the story goes, Webster came into Bennett’s store one day. He was gloomy. Bennett asked Webster what his troubles were this time. Webster replied, “It’s no matter. It will all be right by and by.” Bennett hearing those words said, “that would make a great hymn.” He took out a piece of paper and immediately scribbled down the words and handed them to Webster. Reading the words, Webster started writing down musical notes and within thirty minutes the hymn was completed. It was published and well received. It became one of the greatest pieces that the two worked on together. The hymn was written in 1868.
There are several lessons we see here:
First, we can see Heaven. The hymn states, “And by faith we see it afar.” Jesus said, “blessed are they who have not seen yet believed.” He was talking about Himself. But that idea stretches to all things spiritual. Through the pages of Scriptures we can see Moses parting the Red Sea. By faith, we see Daniel in the lion’s den and Paul singing hymns in the Philippian jail. And, by faith, we see Heaven. More than that, we ought to see ourselves in Heaven. That anticipation and joy ought to motivate us to walk closer to the Lord. It ought lead us to make wise choices and to put God at the top of all things that we do. Talking about Heaven should be one of our favorite topics. A dear friend years ago told me, “Whenever you preach about Heaven, it’s like you just see it.” And, I told her, “I do.”
Second, by and by we shall be there. Don’t let the troubles of this life weigh you down. Don’t get distracted by all the things that do not matter. By and by we will be there. By and by, everything will be ok. Getting to Heaven is like any trip or journey. It takes a while to get there, but once you do, it will be so worth it. By and by we will be there. By and by everything will be ok. This tells us that things are not still up in the air. It’s not like watching a football game and no one knows what the outcome will be. By and by we will be there. By and by is confidence, assurance and motivation. God promises. We must continue walking with Him.
Third, what a wonderful lesson about helping someone. Bennett knew Webster. He knew that he could be depressed. He put before him an opportunity to not only do something worthwhile, but it would get him out of the darkness of his mind. Rather than complaining about his friend. Rather than waiting for him to come around, he helped him. He helped him in a positive way that benefited others. Surrounding us are others just like Webster. They lean toward the negative side of life. Their moods can be dark and depressing. They can pull us down with them or we can find ways to encourage, lift and remind them, as Bennett did with Webster. This example would work well in our families. It would work well among brethren. Imagine this at work.
Fourth, it is amazing what good can be done in such a short period of time. The hymn was completed within thirty minutes. Many great pop song writers have written hits in a similarly fast period of time. Put your mind to it and use your talents and one can be amazed at all the good that can be accomplished in a short time. Another lesson here is the pulling of talents. Bennett came up with the words. Webster wrote the tune. Each on their own, likely could not have accomplished this. But together, combined, look what they did. Too many want to be a one man show. Refusing to share talent and ideas keeps more good from ever being done. If everyone was the quarterback, who would block for and who would catch the passes? The church is made up of all kinds of talent. Instead of thinking who has the most or who is the most valuable, work together as a team. Bennett’s words and Webster’s musical score produced a favorite hymn for generations.
In the Sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore. Won’t that be wonderful!