Jump Start #3293
Jump Start # 3293
Hebrews 13:7 “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”
It’s a small paperback book that was copywritten in 1914. And, it looks that way. Worn, some pages torn, cover faded, this little book has seen it’s time. It’s a hymnal titled, “The New Gospel Songbook.” It belonged to a congregation that is no longer in existence today. Years ago, someone knowing that I collect old things connected to our fellowship passed this hymnal on to me. It sits on the top self, with many other songbooks that I have picked up through the years. The other day, I was trying to remember the words of a specific hymn, so I went to that shelf. My eyes saw that little paperback and so I took it down. I haven’t really looked carefully at the hymns in that old book.
As I flipped through that book I recognized many hymns that I have sung in my life. A few had different titles to what we have today in our hymnals. I was amazed at how many I had never heard of before. Hymns such as: Volunteers to the front; Over, under and around me; Music in Heaven; At the battle’s front; O, the grand book; The bugle call is ringing. It seemed that there were many hymns that had a military or war concept. And, there were many hymns about dying and seeing Jesus.
Now, some thoughts:
First, I wondered how many that had held that hymn book are now resting in the Lord on the other side? Did the words of those hymns bring peace and comfort to those that sung those songs? Just a very short time after 1914, when that book was published, America entered WW I. How many mothers thought about their sons overseas as they sat in country church buildings singing?
Second, I wondered how many of those old hymns were sung as someone decided to leave the wilderness of sin and give their life to Jesus? Did some soul, with tears coming down his cheeks, close that hymnbook and walk to the front of the auditorium and asked to be baptized into Christ? As the angels in Heaven rejoiced, so did God’s people gathered in that little country church. Back then, it likely meant heading to a farm pond for the baptism. Most of those rural congregations did not have indoor baptisteries until the 1950’s or later. Gathered around that nearby farm pond, as the preacher and the repentant one stepped into the water, the congregation stood on the banks singing hymns. Maybe the songbook I have was taken to one of those farm pond baptisms.
Third, I wondered if this hymnbook was taken to a funeral home and used to sing songs of comfort and hope after a dear soul had departed this life? Where all had that hymnbook traveled and what all good came from those that used it, only Heaven now knows?
Our verse today, reminds us to reflect backward and remember those who were kind enough to teach us God’s way. They patiently answered our numerous questions. They had a knowledge of God’s word that impressed us and we wondered if we could ever know the Bible like they did. And, it was more than just teaching us, they illustrated the Gospel message by their walk. They were disciples. They were servants. They were compassionate and kind. Many of them were just simple people that time has forgotten. Their mark in life wasn’t being famous, but being godly and righteous. And, without us realizing it at the time, they have passed the touch on to us.
They were faithful. They were diligent. They sat on hard wooden pews and listened to long sermons without the aid of Powerpoint, fill-in-the-blank notecards. In the summer, those church buildings were stuffy and hot. Tucked in the songbook rack was a few fans with wooden handles. The audience would fan themselves as the preacher preached. In the winter, the buildings were cool. The “hot spots” were close to an oil or coal furnace. In those old country churches the bathroom was the outhouse located behind the church building. Times were hard and contributions were small. But those dedicated disciples journeyed on, inviting neighbors to come hear the Gospel preached. And, they left footprints, footprints that we see, that lead to Jesus. The King James Version was the only version used back in those old days. Folks would underline words and write notes in the margins of their Bibles.
I wonder what some of those disciples from 1914 would think about us today? I wonder if they would be happy to see how we have carried that Gospel torch onward. I wonder if they would think we’d gotten too fancy? And, if the Lord allows the old world to continue on, you and I will be the ones others will be talking about someday. We will be the ones remembered? And, what will they remember about us? Are we doing a good job? Are we keeping things true to God’s word?
An old hymn book that sits on a shelf. Now, it’s an antique and part of my achieves. But once, it was used powerfully to praise the Lord and encourage God’s people. It sits quietly now as do those who once used it.