As many of you already know, George Beverly Shea went home to be with the Lord this week at 104 years old. His legacy as a gospel singer and the front running musician in Billy Graham’s evangelistic crusades is overshadowed by his commitment of faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
And, to be quite honest with you, I had no idea who He was until yesterday when I, coincidentally, also found out of his passing away.
His life touched people worldwide. His ministry spanned the globe and because of His faithfulness to His Savior, people came to know the Lord and their faith grew. His music affected more people than can be counted and His life’s work is still affecting people after his death. Sure, he had his faults and I’m not in any way saying he was perfect. But, he was a saint used by God to further His kingdom. This is a hero in my book. George Beverly Shea penned this song at age 23.
I’d rather have Jesus than silver and gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands
Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today
I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name
He wrote this and offered it’s words to the Lord at age 23. The Lord blessed him with a lifelong ministry. He had worldly applause as a musician, travelled worldwide with Billy Graham, lived a comfortable life (I’m only guessing on this one). But this song says it all: even though he had those things, his heart sang that he would rather have Jesus.
At 104 years old, it can be said that George Beverly Shea was faithful to the end. Like the Parable of the talents, Jesus has looked upon Mr Shea and said "...'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' - Matthew 25:21 NKJV
During our prayer meeting yesterday morning, I also found out about a little boy named Silas who is 4-years old and losing a battle to cancer. The doctors told his parents that it was terminal and he only had weeks to live. His parents, knowing that they had to tell him what was happening, went in and broke the news to him. His response? “Oh good, that means I can go to be with Jesus now.”
This little boy’s faith is unbelievable. He is in pain. He has dealt with this pain for most of his short life. But his response speaks to me louder than the largest Billy Graham revival: I’d rather have Jesus.
He would rather have Jesus than the silver and gold he will probably never have a chance to get on this earth. He would rather have Jesus than the applause of a crowd that he will likely never be in front of. He would rather have Jesus than be here in this life on earth.
This little boy, at age 4 knows that going to heaven and being with His Lord, Maker, and Savior is far greater than anything that this world has to offer. At his precious age, he probably doesn’t even know what this world can try to offer to him yet. And still, as this little boy prepares to go to heaven, his legacy will remain: he was faithful to the end.
I can already hear the Lord telling him "...’'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' - Matthew 25:21 NKJV
Mr Shea was 104. Silas is 4. Both were and are faithful in their lives to honor the Lord and live for Him. Both had their eyes on their Savior and trusted in his perfect will for their lives. I pray I would heed both of their examples, learn from their great legacies, and do the same.