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“Precious Lord take my hand, lead me on, help me stand; I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; thru the storm, thru the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.”

The words you have just read come from the song “Precious Lord Take My Hand,” one of the most moving songs I have ever had the privilege of singing. The first time I ever sang this song I was a freshman at Harding University, I was singing in the Concert Choir, and an arrangement of this song was our signature piece. The strange thing is that the first several times I sang this song it really did not have that deep of an emotional connection for me; in fact it was not until I heard the story of how this song was written that I really began to look at the message of the song. I would like to share that story with you today.

Thomas A. Dorsey (not to be confused with the big band leader Tommy Dorsey) was born in Georgia in 1899 and was the son of a revivalist preacher. When Thomas was about eleven, the Dorsey family moved to Atlanta where young Thomas was immediately enamored with the style of jazz music. Thomas took to playing the piano in a vaudeville theater. Before long the Dorsey family moved to Chicago where Thomas adopted the name “Georgia Tom” and began playing in the speakeasies of the infamous gangster Al Capone.

In 1921 Thomas gave up his life of wild living and began to write gospel music, for which he is now most well known, settled down, and got married. In 1932 while leading music in St. Louis, Thomas was handed a telegram telling him that his wife had died in childbirth. He was crushed to hear this horrible news. A friend was asked to drive Thomas back home through the night so that he might attend to the arrangements for his family. It was this long car ride through the night that inspired Thomas to pen the words to “Precious Lord Take My Hand.”

Why am I telling you this story? As I sit here writing this, I am reminded of the time 12 years ago when I walked into the student center at Harding University just in time to see a plane hit the second tower in New York City on September 11, 2001. As I reflect on the events of that day, it occurs to me that there were, and are, many people in the same situation as Thomas was when he was handed that telegram about his wife and unborn child. There were people 12 years ago that had to deal with the fact that they had loved ones they would never see again and loved ones that they would never meet. Those same people, and many more, are still dealing with that reality today and every day that passes.

As Christians, what should our response be to those people that are hurting so badly from the losses they feel? I would encourage you to share your faith with them as you have the opportunity. I would encourage you to introduce them to a Jesus who says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

There are always opportunities to share your faith and there are always going to be excuses for not doing so; don’t give into the excuses—live out your faith.

Be Strong and Courageous,