(Friends, during our time away, a number of thoughts and experiences occurred that crystalized into messages I'll send along this week. Thanks, Glen)
"I Need Thee"
Mr. Marion got me with the last hymn he played.
"I need Thee every hour, every hour I need Thee,
o bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee."
We stopped in Savannah, Georgia for a day and a half on the way home from the mountains of Virginia. Savannah is much like our home city of Mobile, Alabama, multiplied several fold. Lush green parks grace the downtown area. Beautiful architecture of days gone by remains on and inside preserved homes, businesses, and government buildings. We spent most of our time in Savannah simply walking city streets as we added probably 15-20 miles to the 50 mile hike we enjoyed in the mountains (a lot flatter, and much better restaurants in the town, I must say!).
We encountered Mr. Marion in one of the parks on the evening before our departure. He plays the flute, and as we sat down one one of the benches, the strains of his music reached our ears before we knew from whence it came. Mostly hymns wafted on the breeze of a beautiful end of the day twilight. Mr. Marion seems to especially love "Give Me That Old Time Religion" (yes, Lord, please give us some of that!). He played other melodies, including an occasional folk song and show tune. Again, however, he got me with "I Need Thee".
"Frances, I've got to meet and thank whoever is playing that music." She followed me over to the bench on which Mr. Marion sat and relaxed during a musical interlude. I introduced myself and thanked him for the gift of his music. "My name is Marion" responded the elderly African-American gentleman. "Like John Wayne, you know" (Marion Robert Morrison was the famous actor's given name). We talked for a few minutes, I made a contribution to the tarnished silver bucket that sat at Mr. Marion's feet, and I told him how much I appreciated his rendition of "I Need Thee". He looked at me and smiled. "I'll tell you what" he said. "I going to serenade you and your wife as you walk away. Mr. Marion placed flute to lips, and we turned to leave with the melody of "Amazing Grace" escorting us from the park. I looked back, hoping to make eye contact and wave farewell to him. He was into his music, however, yes, Mr. Marion was into God's amazing grace.
I share this so you'll know about Mr. Marion. Even more, however, I want to serve you as Mr. Marion served us with his musical reminder of how much we need our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly every believer knows in principle that we need the Lord, and that we need Him every hour. Our flesh is prone to pride, however, and is even more disposed to forgetting the fundamental reality of our existence as God's dependent creations. "Without Me, ye can do nothing" declared the Lord Jesus, a revelation of the human condition echoed by the Apostle Paul's confession of "no confidence in the flesh" (John 15:5; Philippians 3:3). Any reminder of such truth serves us well, and Frances and I know the great old hymn well enough that its mere melody is enough to bear witness to God's faithfulness and our need.
I hope to see Mr. Marion again. I hope to hear Mr. Marion again. Whether this happens or not, I will remember him, and I will recall the sound of his songs as they blessed us on a pleasant, late spring evening in Savannah. Most of all, I will remember "I Need Thee" when I think of Mr. Marion, in musical memory, but even more, in meaningful message.
"We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead."
(II Corinthians 1:9)
"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool."
"Trust in the Lord with all thy heart."
Weekly Memory Verse
Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
(II Thessalonians 2:16-17)