I just began a study of Colossians for a Bible study I joined with some ladies from church. I’m really looking forward to the study. While I’ve always loved the book of Colossians, I have never done an in-depth study of the book. We were encouraged to read through the entire book, so I did that this morning. (Don’t be too impressed–it’s a short book.)
I was really struck by two things about the book. First, I had never really thought about the tone of the letter. Paul and Timothy wrote this letter to the Colossian church. (Can you imagine getting a letter from those two?) Not only did they write the letter, they wrote it to encourage this church, because they had heard about their testimony and had been praying for them. Now they wanted to encourage them. The Bible study guide encouraged us to imagine ourselves in the shoes of the original readers. The idea was to give us a sense of the excitement, and I definitely could imagine the excitement.
The second thing that struck me about the letter was the focus on heaven. The recurring theme in the letter is that God sent His Son to pay for our entrance into heaven, and that’s all that really matters. Colossians 2:20-23 really drives home the point–Christ paid the price, so what am I doing trying to add my own ideas of “shoulds and shouldn’ts?” I was reminded (again) of how much I love Colossians 3:2’s reminder to keep my mind on God’s view and not on the stuff of earth.
You’re probably wondering by now how Fanny Crosby fits into all of this. I’m sorry that this is a “sorta-long” story–I’ll try my best to sum up quickly. At school this year, we are celebrating the school’s 50th year. So, as a Jubilee celebration, we are studying Psalm 145. Each month, we study one character quality. This month’s character quality is “Joyful Praise.” I have also been charged with the responsibility of choosing music for chapel. (Days of Elijah made the perfect theme song for the year–if you haven’t heard it before, go listen to it here.) We are also celebrating our heritage with a different hymn each month. This month’s hymn is To God be the Glory by Fanny Crosby. This Friday’s chapel has no speaker because of a scheduling glitch with the room, so I was asked to lead a praise chapel with lots of singing. In addition to the singing, I’m planning to share a little about Fanny Crosby’s testimony with the students.
In reviewing her story and testimony, I was struck at how well she exemplified the Colossians attitude and the focus on heaven. She wrote at least 8,000 songs, and some sources believe it may have been closer to 10,000, since she often used pen names–and she didn’t write her first song until she was 41 years old. She was also quoted once as saying that she didn’t write a single one of those songs without first praying that God would use it to reach lost souls. Even though she was blind from infancy, most of her 8,000+ hymns speak of seeing Jesus.
Her biography is almost Job-like. She lost her sight at six weeks old and her father in her first year of life. She married another blind musician when she was 35. They had a baby who died in infancy, and Fanny’s husband died soon after that. Yet, despite all these things (that would leave most of feeling sorry for ourselves), she lived in an attitude of Joyful Praise that the first face she would truly see would be the face of Jesus. All I can say to that is “Wow!”