An Authentic, Sometimes Gritty, and Always Hopeful Blog for All Who Live with Severe Physical Pain

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus": We Can be Well in the Things that Count

I’m writing today in hopes to encourage you, as I have been encouraged this past week. 

A book I’ve owned for who-knows-how-long, appeared mysteriously on my bedside stand sometime last week. Eyeing it there, each time I reached for a tissue, I finally reached for it when I became tired watching too many DVR’d NCIS shows.  (That’s how un-plugged I am most of the time to how much God longs to answer my prayers for help.) 

The book is called, Then Sings My Soul: Special Edition, and contains the sheet music to well known hymns ...(which is lost on me because I can’t read music--but I like to make up the tunes to the hymns I don’t know--and often to the ones I do know!)...  along with the stories of faith that surround them. The hymn I happened to flip to--more accurately-- the one the Holy Spirit placed open before me, was “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”  by Helen H. Lemmel. I even knew the tune to that one!

Here's the words in case they are too hard to read above:
  1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!
  • Refrain:
    Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
    Look full in His wonderful face,
    And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
    In the light of His glory and grace.
  1. Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conqu’rors we are!
  2. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

This hymn, composed by Helen Lemmel, a woman who found music to be her nourishment and strength. She was born 151 years ago in England, and studied music professionally. Her life became one of seeming tragedy when the man she married left her after she became blind. (I couldn't find anything on the web that explained her blindness--sorry.)  She faced other sadnesses as well, according to the writer who adds, “Helen struggled with multiple heartaches during midlife.”  No further details are given.

Helen was inspired to write  “Turn Yours Eyes Upon Jesus”  when she was 55 years young, after reading a pamphlet with the following quote: “So, then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.”  Helen later said  that the chorus of the hymn came to her immediately, without a conscious thought of its rhyme or note. Within the week, she’d completed the hymn. 
It doesn’t appear that Helen’s life became easier in her later years. When she was “advanced in years” she was practically destitute, living in a single sparse bedroom, a dependent of the government. Her joy and enthusiasm, however, captured the heart of pastor, Doug Goins and his wife, Kathryn.
They developed a close relationship with Helen who, according to Kathryn was always composing hymns. “She had no way of writing them down, so she would call my husband at all hours and he’d rush down and record them before she forgot the words.”
Helen had a small plastic keyboard by her bed. There she would play, sing and cry. “One day God is going to bless me with a great heavenly keyboard, “she’d say.  “I can hardly wait!”
Helen wound up writing nearly 500 hymns over her lifetime. Despite all her difficult life situations and tragedies, she chose joy; through her hymns others are drawn closer to the heart of the joy-giver Lord!  
I needed a fresh reminder of the big picture. 
It helps to know of the stories of those who have traveled through their own difficulties, 
and made it to the other side. 
Helen had a beautiful way of responding to people who would ask her how she was doing  in the course of casual conversation, as further indication of the depth of this woman's struggles and reliance on the Lord as the source of her joy and strength.  I am always at loss as to how to respond to someone who asks me how I am in a casual way--because I am always in pain and want to answer truthfully so that people do not wrongly think I am no longer suffering; however, I also don't want to come across as complaining, because the Lord is my provider.  I’ve sought for many appropriate ways to respond throughout the years.

No response has ever seen quite so fitting as the one 
Helen often gave to those who asked how she was:
“I am doing well in the things that count.”

I am (most often) doing well in the things that count:  I am at peace, without fear, looking forward to life, happy, joyful  Not always, though…how much more I need of the Lord!  I will be even more well when I do thisturn my eyes upon Jesus; look full in his wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. 

Until Next Time,

1 comment:

  1. Judi--
    I am sorry to hear of your being ill (aka--feeling even worse than usual) and so thrilled to see your words again... Yes--I have also been very lax in writing--my NECK Pain has been "not so great" --figured to make that area brief, but I could go on and on about it.. In short--I have a procedure coming up on March 10th--not surgery--just another hope of getting the Pain to ease some...

    I love this Song and love the lady even more---it is wonderful to learn about people who have risen above their Pain and done wonderful things in their life--perhaps one of being able to answer that question of how are you doing--people probably expecting to hear terrible news--and she gave an answer that was truly filled with amazing Grace...

    Without question it is beyond HARD to live with constant Physical Pain--waking with it, getting through the day, and having it follow you to bed--as you struggle to find SLEEP..... Recently a lady in our community saw me walk into a meeting, my husband right beside me and I could see the LOOK on her face--followed by the words--"Martha, what happened--uh, well how have you been?" I could not find the words---husband filled in with some words, but it was awkward to say the least...

    I know there will be more moments like this--now that I have "met" this amazing lady through your sharing her song and history with us--I am motivated to find a "better answer" for that question we know will always come......

    SPRING is just around the corner------wait a minute---we were in the 20's with freezing RAIN last night---so might have to wait longer for SPRING to get here.... I seem to feel "some better" when SPRING arrives... We have hope---and FAITH for the next day..... Thank you my strong and determined Friend... We WILL get BETTER...