We sang the old hymn “It is Well with My Soul” yesterday in church. I love that song and can’t seem to get it out of my head.
I cannot sing it without thinking of the story behind the writer of the words. If you don’t know, it was written by Horatio Spafford while sailing across the ocean to meet his wife. Horatio had lost his fortune in the Great fire of Chicago and had lost an infant son. He went on to have 4 daughters whom he sent, along with his wife, to Europe for a vacation. He was to join them all, but before he left he received a telegram from his wife with only 2 words… “saved alone”. The ship had sunk and his wife was one of only a handful of survivors. His 4 daughters were gone.
To think of him penning those astounding words…. “It is Well with my Soul” after all that he had been through is truly remarkable. It makes them mean so much more, I think, to know the story behind the song.
But yesterday it was a different line that got me. It says…. “my sin, not in part, but the whole…..was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
And I love that it’s the “whole”. Every bit of my sin He took upon the cross. Christ didn’t take some of our sin. He took all of it. He didn’t walk around saying…. “I’ll die for this sin but not for that one.” He died for the whole lot of all of our sin.
It reminds me of one year at family camp when I made a cross in the arts and crafts room. They gave us a wooden cross and then we took some crystal, marble type beads and crushed them with a hammer. We put them in a Ziploc baggie to keep them from flying around, but over and over the shards of glass were so sharp they would cut holes in the baggies. We even wore protective goggles because the flying glass was so dangerous.
And then when we put all those pieces of glass…..all different colors and shapes and sizes…..up on the cross, the ugly, crushed up pieces of glass became beautiful. And it was that image that I took home from camp with me, the image of Christ taking all that is ugly and sinful about our lives and by His death on the cross, making our lives a thing of beauty.
For example….we all know how painful sin can be….how sharp are it’s cutting edges. But yet, every one of us can place our sin upon the cross. And the grace and redemption Christ’s death upon it provides us is beautiful. He took every broken piece of us, every sharp edge and said “place it upon the cross”. And when our sin is on the the cross (or more literally, upon Christ), we are more beautiful, because we are forgiven.
And then we can sing…..
“Praise the Lord, O My Soul, Praise the Lord!”