“Our Great God”

Last Sunday the Lord used a special song – and a special minister — to pick me up at just the right moment, give me assurance, and prepare me to share His word.  When I arrived at church that day I was still recovering from a week in which I had been sick, and had totally lost my voice.  I literally whispered small portions of a discipleship class Wednesday evening, and began to get a remnant of a voice back Friday.  I spoke only a few sentences Saturday, and went into Sunday with no small amount of trepidation about whether that voice would make it through preaching two morning messages.  But early on in those worship services, God would minister to me in a way which would remind me about how great He is!

One of the songs last Sunday was a newer one to us: “Our Great God.”  It is a genre of worship song which is one of my favorites, that of the newer or re-worked hymns.  The first verse speaks, as the title indicates, of the greatness of God:

“Eternal God, unchanging, mysterious and unknown, Your boundless love unfailing, in grace and mercy shown.   Bright seraphim in endless flight around Your glorious throne; they raise their voices day and night in praise to You alone.  Hallelujah, glory be to our great God!” 

Verses like that are right down my alley; I enjoy worship songs which allude to the majesty and glory of God.  But no matter how much I liked a song, I would not be joining in the singing that Sunday.  I had been admonished by our matriarchal receptionist as I walked into the service, NOT to sing, but to save my voice for the message!  That is exactly what I had planned to do.  In fact, I wasn’t even going to do the greeting or pastoral prayer; I had asked one of our associate pastors to do that, in hopes that I might have just enough of a voice to make it through the two messages.  Then the next verse jolted me:

“O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise; the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.”  That brought me literally to tears: I LOVE to sing songs of worship, but I couldn’t today.  I could only pray along with those words: “O for a thousand tongues to sing …” and lift my hand as the rest of the congregation lifted their voices, as a testimony that those words reflected my own heart.  Then I was arrested by the next phrase: “My great Redeemer and my God, assist me to proclaim …”!  Why, that was exactly what I needed: God’s help to proclaim His word that day!  His provision of those words just when I needed them, reminded me that He would give me whatever else I needed that day as well.  And of course He did: my voice made it through both services – it actually seemed to grow stronger in the second service! — and I went home with a full and grateful heart.

But as songs often do, this one which had helped me so much kept rolling through my mind after the services.  I couldn’t remember all of the words, so I decided to download “Our Great God” from iTunes.  But when I did, I was in for a surprise: the verse which had helped me so much – “O for a thousand tongues to sing/assist me to proclaim” – was not in this version of the hymn!  So I shot an e-mail to our Minister of Music, Kyle Chamblin, and asked him about it.  Where did he get his version of this hymn?  His answer astounded me: that verse did not come with the song at all; he had replaced the original verse, which he did not think was fitting, with the classic words of the old John Wesley hymn, “O For A Thousand Tongues.”  Now this was even more special: not only did God provide a song which would minister to me in a very timely and needed way, but He also laid it on Kyle’s heart earlier in the week to CHANGE THE WORDS of the hymn and insert the very ones which would speak so directly to me!   

Some thoughts:

— First, do not discount the importance of music in your walk with God.  That hymn, “Our Great God”, has elevated my thoughts all week.  I have sung it each day in my quiet time, and I have hummed it wherever I have gone.  God made us to worship Him, and music is one of the gifts He has given us to assist us in that worship.  Don’t limit your singing to church worship services.  Take those songs home with you: buy CD’s; download worship songs onto your iPod, and let worship be a continual experience for you as you sing throughout the week.   

— Secondly, this experience should also challenge us to walk in a manner that is sensitive to the Spirit’s leadership.  If you are prompted to do something in a different or unusual way, it may be that God is preparing the means for you to minister to someone in a way which you cannot anticipate beforehand. 

— I am grateful for the way that the Lord ministered to me through the services that Sunday.  He really is, as that song indicates, a “Great God”!  And He demonstrated that to me in a fresh way, with His sustenance for my voice, as well as His remarkable providence in putting just the right words and music together which would pick me up at a needed moment.

— And finally, I am grateful to be able to worship with a Minister of Music like Bro. Kyle.  I am thankful that he led us to sing “Our Great God” last Sunday – and that he had the spiritual sensitivity to replace the original verse with that one which would be so rich in meaning for me – and undoubtedly for others who were present as well.  

I am thankful today for “Our Great God” – and for a great worship leader as well!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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1 Response to “Our Great God”

  1. Becky Donovan says:

    I’ve been praying for you even while we’ve been gone and to read this is just a bolt to my heart and know this Lord is indeed on the throne, not that He ever left, just one of these times when reading this I needed to be reminded of it, Thanks for sharing, Bro Shawn!!! I really have missed my church family this past week and have been in prayer for everyone!!! So glad to hear you’re doing better!! We’re not sure if we’ll be back this Sunday or not, but I pray so, oh how I have learned how important it is to gather together and worship with fellow believers!!! Thanks agan and you and your family are continually in my thoughts and prayers!!
    Becky Donovan

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