The words were written in 1922 by Rhea F. Miller as a poem. Beverly Shea, the church organist, left the poem on her home piano for her son, hoping he would read it. He did. The poem so moved him he put it to music. It would become a classic and change the trajectory of this young man’s life.
Her composer son lived for 104 years. He continued to sing into his second century. He recorded more than 70 albums, won the Grammy in 1966 for the best Gospel or Religious Album. His vocal style was “characterized by a resonant bass-baritone, impeccable diction, sensitive musical phrasing and an ‘unshowmanlike’ delivery that nonetheless conveyed his ardent religious conviction.”
A well-known colleague said of him, “I would rather hear him sing than anyone else I know.” That was Billy Graham and he spoke of George Beverly Shea. The song was “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” The first stanza and chorus follow.
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway.
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
I do not know Mr. Miller’s inspiration. But it is not unreasonable to think the Apostle Paul had something to do with it.
Take a look at our passage for Sunday, Philippians 3:1-11. Paul says, “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss, in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…”
In the past few weeks people have lost jobs, retirement, security, freedom of movement, and happiness. Even Tom Brady even lost his job! But the one thing you will never loose is God’s love for you and the Life Eternal He gives.
So, could you honestly sing “I’d Rather Have Jesus?” Could you during this time of loss “count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ?” This will be the subject of my message “WHAT WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE?” Between now and Sunday, spend time meditating on Philippians 3:1-3. I encourage you to commit part or the whole passage to memory.
Again, with the help of Peter and Pastor Michael my message will be live streamed. Like last week you will receive a link from Pastor Michael at 9:45AM which will take you to the live feed. So watch your email.