‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’

Special to The Mountaineer
By Lucy Adams | Oct 31, 2012
Photo by: File photo

The room was crowded; the voters were busy. Conversations varied as people discussed their candidates. Since I wasn’t joining any conversations a friend asked me, “What’s wrong?”
I smiled and said, “Nothing’s wrong. I’m thankful that we have the freedom to vote. But after months of discussions about candidates, I’m tired of talking about which one I’d choose.”
I paused a moment and added, “Truthfully, I’d rather have Jesus.” Then we both smiled, and were reminded of that beautiful old gospel hymn.
It seemed to be a turning point for the conversation because there wasn’t much else to say. Christians know the leader of our choice is not the ultimate answer to our nation’s needs. So we must pray for the one who is chosen knowing that no one’s perfect. As Christians, we can be assured that we can trust God to lead us through whatever comes.
The hymn, “I’d Rather Have Jesus” came to us in the mid-1920s through the gifted musician and man of God, George Beverly Shea. One Sunday morning in the family home by the piano he discovered a poem titled “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” It stirred deep longings in his heart. He tells the story in his latest book, “How Sweet the Sound.”
“At the age of 23, I was living at home with my parents, continuing to work at Mutual Life Insurance and studying voice,” wrote Shea. “Going to the piano one Sunday morning, I found a poem waiting for me there. I recognized my mother’s handwriting. She had copied the words of a poem by Mrs. Rhea F. Miller, knowing that I would read the beautiful message, which speaks of choice. As I read these precious words:
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause.
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause.
I found myself singing the words in a melody that expressed the feelings of my heart.”
Very soon Shea developed a radio music ministry so he could share the Good News of Christ. When the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was formed in the 1940s, Shea became the soloist.
After many years with this worldwide ministry, he has officially retired. He makes his home in Montreat, near the home of his friend Billy Graham.
In February of this year Shea celebrated his 103rd birthday. His family and friends participated in festivities full of music. Among the many hymns he has made famous, “I’d Rather Have Jesus” was a meaningful part of the rejoicing.
Thank you Lord, that we can ask You to be our perfect leader. There’s no need to be fearful of the future when we grow in our faith and trust Your guidance. Amen.
Reach Lucy Adams at Lucya424@aol.com.