Editor’s Note: In a nod to our Presbyterian heritage, we regularly feature a column from a PMMA® chaplain in our newsletter. This month’s column comes from Rev. Richard Russell, chaplain at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor®.
As I write this article, I am sitting by my wife’s bed in the local hospice house. She is nearing the end of her battle with cancer. She and I have spoken a lot recently about how God is very near to us. This made me think of a familiar old hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee.” In the first stanza, it says “Nearer my God to thee, nearer to thee, even though it be a cross, that raiseth me, still all my song shall be, nearer my God to thee, nearer my God thee.” We have certainly had a difficult cross to bear throughout these months. But God’s nearness has been the thing to help us through. He says in His word, as you draw nearer to me, I draw nearer to you.
In the second stanza, it says, “If like the wanderer, the sun goes down, darkness be over me, my rest a stone, yet in my dreams I’d be, nearer my God to thee, nearer my God to thee.” In our dark days that we have journeyed through, it has been the tenderness of God’s care and love that has been our support. The psalmist said, “He loves you with everlasting love, and underneath are His everlasting arms.” We truly have sensed Him holding us in His love.
The third stanza says, “There let the way appear, steps unto heaven, all that thou sendeth me, in mercy giveth, angels to beckon me, nearer my God to thee, nearer my God to thee.” We know because of faith and God’s promises that He has gone to prepare a place for us. And we can look forward to the wonderous things that will bring.
In the last stanza, the old hymn says, “Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky, sun moon and stars forgot, upward I fly, still all my song shall be, nearer my God to thee, nearer my God to thee.” My wife looks forward to hearing those words from Jesus Himself, “well done my good and faithful servant, enter into all that I have prepared for you.” We know that will bring perfect healing, perfect joy, and perfect peace. So, our hope for you dear reader is that you too would draw nearer to the Lord, and find His loving grace to be sufficient for your every need.