I am hopeful for continual healing, but no matter what God's plan is for my eyes, I want to be an overcomer; I want to choose to see Jesus in all things. When I read about people like Fanny Crosby, I am reminded that my challenges are quite minimal in comparison, and yet my attitude is often quite lacking joy. It's all about perspective. A person like Fanny Crosby is someone we remember, because her story is one of perpetual hope, faith, and victory in Jesus. She didn't let her disability be the mark that defined her life, rather her God-given abilities and overcoming spirit gave her opportunities to use her gifts to touch this world in amazing ways.
Some wondered why God would allow such an amazing woman to become blind at only six weeks old...but Fanny responded to such doubts and questions with a simple statement: "Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior." Oh the depths of her faith! Oh her steadfast joy! I long to have that kind love for my Jesus. To be quite honest, sometimes I struggle with my own disability and can have days where it is so frustrating and difficult to see clearly. I feel like I am stumbling over everything, dizzy, head spinning, tired, and head hurting. Ok, I realize it's not that bad...I have friends who are blind or have visual impairment much worse than my own, but you know how it is...we all have pathetic pity parties for ourselves here and there, at times.
But when I recall the quote above from dear Fanny Jane, my whole heart perspective is rearranged and I remember Heaven. I think about the beautiful face of Jesus. I begin to cry tears of overwhelming joy. And my hope becomes so fixed and secure. It is often during worship on Sunday mornings when I imagine seeing Jesus face to face in all His glory and perfect presence. And I do imagine His face being the first that I see totally clearly, one face, no double, no dizziness, no blurred image. Totally clear, beautiful, holy, perfect, strong, radiant light. I'm crying now, even as I type this, trying to picture what it really will be like to be with Him in that moment, forever. No sickness, no pain, no questions, no frustrations, no hurt, no brokenness, no anxiousness, no darkness, no injustice, no sin. Only wholeness and healing and hope forever. Only relationship and closeness and knowing Him and being known forever. Only life and joy and peace and glory forever. Only love and victory forever. Only all our deepest longings met forever. Oh how I long to see the face of Jesus.
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)
It was in worship one early Sunday morning when that blessed assurance hit my soul like an ocean wave washing over me. I knew that I knew, that no matter what, my Jesus paid for my sins on the cross so I could be with Him in heaven forever. I knew that if I didn't wake up from surgery, that the first face I would see would be Jesus, and that truly death would bring life. I knew Who held my life in His hands, and I knew Who held my victory. I knew that to live was Christ and to die would be gain. I knew that if the worst happened, it would be the best. I knew that no matter what, my Savior Who spoke this world into being and breathed life into my lungs and created my inmost being and knit me together in my mother's womb- that very Savior and God had written every day ordained for me before one of them began to be, and He knew my end from my beginning. His plan and purpose for my life would prevail.
These days, when I share my story with people all over the country, I tell everyone that there is nothing more important than to know Jesus. Dear friend, reading this blog today, do you know Him? Do you have that blessed assurance of your salvation? Do you believe with all of your being that He is alive and He has given you life? Are you confident that you will be with Jesus in Heaven forever? Please don't wait a single day. He is offering you life, and life to the full.
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son...I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:11,13)
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5)
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
I want to end by sharing the sweet story of Fanny and her good friend Phoebe Palmer Knapp. In 1873 both women lived in New York City. Fanny lived in the slums of Manhattan, working in rescue missions and often giving what little money she had away. Meanwhile, Phoebe lived in a mansion in Brooklyn, married to Joseph Knapp, the president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Phoebe was an avid and extravagant entertainer, and Fanny was often a guest in her home. Their friendship formed through attending the same church, the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church. One day Phoebe brought a tune she wrote to Fanny, playing it for her in her opulent music room. Fanny knelt in prayer while listening and then after hearing the tune twice, immediately exclaimed in her typical joyful fashion, "Why, that says, 'Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!'" With that, the new hymn came to life as Fanny finished writing the words. Among many other Crosby hymns, "Blessed Assurance," became widely popular throughout the country and around the world during the Moody/Sankey revival meetings of the 1800s. I don't see this hymns popularity fading anytime soon, over 200 years later, as we treasure the hope it holds still today.
Phoebe P. Knapp & Fanny J. Crosby
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in his blood.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long!
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long!
Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003.
Peterson, RAndy. Be Still My Soul: The Inspiring Stories behind 175 of the Most-Loved Hymns. Carol Stream: Tyndall House, 2014.