Godís Little Notebook
I had my hat and coat on and was heading out the door when the thought occurred to me. I was heading off for my morning walk and had a trunk load of stuff to drop off at the dump. ďMaybe John will be back to work and I can find out how his wife and new son are doing. Iíd better take something along to write on so I can get his phone number.Ē John has a recording studio and I wanted to talk to him about doing a new CD of the songs from my first book. When I headed back downstairs to my office I looked around for something to put in my shirt pocket I could write on. The first thing I spotted was one of those little multi-colored, spiral-twisted Post-It cubes, so I pulled three or four pages off. I didnít need three or four pages to write down a phone number, but thatís the way they came off the pad, so I just stuffed them down into my shirt pocket and headed back upstairs and out to the car.
It was a chilly morning with the temperature still in the thirties, and the early November sun didnít hold much promise for warming my walk. As I often do, I started singing softly to myself as I was walking along.
If I cannot speak for Jesus, Iíd rather die, yes I would. If I cannot speak for Jesus, Iíd rather die If I canít stand with folded arms, and say how Jesus bore the cross alone If I cannot speak for Jesus, Iíd rather die If I cannot Speak For Jesus from The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi
Iíve always loved that song and the way that Archie Brownlee sings the lead. Nobody could sing like Archie, but Iíd always hoped that Derrick or Frankie in my Gospel Messengers would learn it so that we could sing it someday. Then Derrick moved away and the Gospel Messengers drifted into retirement. I never attempted the lead with the Messengers because I am a baritone and Archie Brownlee was an electrifying high tenor who hit notes that I could never aspire to. That didnít stop me from singing the song as I was walking along, comfortably dropped down a couple of octaves.
As I softly sang to myself I felt an old, familiar frustration rise in me. The song only has one verse and a chorus that I can remember, and I donít even know all of those words anymore. Back in the days when The Five Blind Boys were recording, the maximum length of a song was about three minutes. That was the amount of recordable space there was on one side of a record. If theyíd been doing spoken words in those days and you wanted to do a book, youíd have to boil Moby Dick down to three minutes. When Iím singing and I run out of words, I just start singing whatever comes in to my head.
Oh, Jesus, he was a quiet man Slow to anger, quick to forgive Donít confuse love for weakness He was the strongest man who ever lived
Those who rebuked him and walked away Lived to regret it on their dying day So, Iíll speak for Jesus, my blessed Savior Until I die
Not that the song flowed out that smoothly. The first couple of lines came out as they often do, and then the rest of the song slowly started building. I wanted to get the lines in about not confusing love for weakness ending with the word ďwho ever lived,Ē so I needed a rhyme for ďlived.Ē How can I speak for Jesus without talking about his forgiveness? I also changed some of the lines as they came to me. The familiar phrase about regretting something until your dying day didnít quite say what I wanted to say. Those who reject Jesus will regret it most of all on their dying day. My memory being what it is, I didnít trust being able to pull all the words out of my mind when I got home. I had just started my walk and I had a couple of errands to run before I swung by the dump to get Johnís phone number. And then I remembered the crumpled up Post-It pages stuffed down in my shirt pocket. There was just enough space to write the words down as I kept walking along. I could always write Johnís phone number on the back of the last page.
I canít ever remember taking a handful of scrap paper on my walk with me. I never felt the need. But God knew what he had in mind for me, even if I didnít. He knew Iíd need something to write on. Iím just thankful that He didnít ask me to carry a couple of stone tablets.