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THE BIRTH OF THE SONG "PRECIOUS LORD"
Tommy A. Dorsey, GUIDEPOST

Back in 1932 I was 32 years old and a fairly new husband. My wife, Nettie, and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago's Southside. One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis, where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting.

I didn't want to go. Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child. But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis.

I kissed Nettie good-bye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.

However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, I had forgotten my music case. I wheeled around and headed back. I found Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay. But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music.

The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope.

Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED.

People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out. I rushed to a phone and called home.

All I could hear on the other end was "Nettie is dead. Nettie is dead." When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung between grief and joy.

Yet that night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little both together, in the same casket. Then I fell apart.

For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn't want to serve Him any more or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well. But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis. Something kept telling me to stay with
Nettie.

Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died. From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him. But still I was lost in grief.

Everyone was kind to me, especially a friend, Professor Fry, who seemed to know what I needed. On the following Saturday evening he took me up to Malone's Poro College, a neighborhood music school. It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows. I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys. Something happened to me then. I felt at peace. I felt as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody, one into my head-they just seemed
to fall into place:

Precious Lord, take my hand,
lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn,
Through the storm, through the night
lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

As the Lord gave me these words and melody, He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power. And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.

Sometimes our greatest and most accurate observations about God come in moments of utter despair and desperation, when life seems futile and God seems silent. Such was the case for Tommy Dorsey. Such was the case for the Psalmist. Perhaps this is your experience as well.

God is never gone. He is always present, ready to render aid to those who will seek and accept His type of help. Our problem, perhaps, is that when we are out of options with only one hope left-God, we seem to tell him exactly how He should get us out of the mess we got ourselves into. We need to let God be God.

Let Him, from His eternal perspective and heavenly vantage, choose the solution to our woes. He will never let you down or leave you. Remember the poem "Foot Prints"? when you see only a pair of footprints in the sand, don't assume that they are yours. In fact, at the times you called out to God and let Him help you, those footprints are the Lord's as He carries you.

I pray that your week will be blessed. Reach out to someone in pain or sorrow this week. Let them know how very much our Lord loves them. Be a visible reminder of the compassion and mercy that God has for us.

Be encouraged!!