We were recently on a Skype call with my parents, who live in Oklahoma. They just happened to be over at my 92-year-old Grandpa’s farmhouse, and we, of course, insisted on saying hello to Grandpa. You know, to try and cheer him up a little. Our 4-year-old daughter specializes in such things.
So my Dad takes his phone into Grandpa’s bedroom for us to say, “Hello!” We exchanged greetings, then my Mom suggests that Grandpa play his harmonica for us.
SIDE NOTE: I grew up around my Grandpa and Grandma Hodges, seeing them nearly every day, and I never once remember him playing harmonica, or really even talking about it.
He concedes to play us a few songs on the harmonica, before he goes back to resting.
He played us two songs. The second was a song that had something to say about strawberries. I really didn’t catch that part. The reason? It was the song before that really moved me. The first song that he played was “He Leadeth Me” by Joseph H. Gilmore and William B. Bradbury.
Gilmore had this to say about how writing the hymn came abut in 1862:
As a young man who recently had been graduated from Brown University and Newton Theological Institution, I was supplying for a couple of Sundays the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. At the mid-week service, on the 26th of March, 1862, I set out to give the people an exposition of the Twenty-third Psalm, which I had given before on three or four occasions, but this time I did not get further than the words “He Leadeth Me.” Those words took hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw them in a significance and wondrous beauty of which I had never dreamed.
It was the darkest hour of the Civil War. I did not refer to that fact—that is, I don’t think I did—but it may subconsciously have led me to realize that God’s leadership is the one significant fact in human experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or whither we are led, so long as we are sure God is leading us.
Let me repeat…
God’s leadership is the one significant fact in human experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or whither we are led, so long as we are sure God is leading us.
Man, hitting me like a ton of bricks.
This is the first song he played, and it should also be the cry of my heart every day. I have been using Psalm 25:4-5 as a part of my personal prayer time for over a year now and I felt like God used my Grandpa Hodges to validate all of those prayers. God’s leadership matters most.
I’d like to close with the words of the hymn:
He leadeth me, O blessèd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.
Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.
And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.