E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to thee; nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!
- The words of the first stanza of "Nearer, my God, to Thee", Words by Sarah F. Mason, United Methodist Hymnal
As I worked to finally finish and publish my book, "Summers at Nags Head," the music from this beautiful hymn suddenly was alive in my head. I pondered the reason and then I remembered the story of the Titanic, the great, unsinkable British passenger ship which came to an inglorious end when it sank in April 1912 in the cold North Atlantic. It seems that the brilliant ship designers didn't take into account the strength of solid ice, frozen and sharp like a giant blade which punctured the double hull of that great ship. And the story goes that John Jacob Astor, a rich and powerful man, honorably sacrificed himself in the water to save women and children. Astor and others who accepted their fate, gathered on the gradually pitching deck with a small group of musicians, singing the beautiful hymn before bidding adieu to one another and meeting their death.
This wasn't the only thing, however, that brought the hymn to mind. It was the long term association brought by something else that naturally added to it. You see, as a young lad I spent every summer that I can remember by the side of the sea until I reached adulthood. Having the good fortune to spend those many days on North Carolina's Outer Banks, I thought of the combination often as I would walk along the shore during a nor'easter and other such moments when the sea appeared angry. It represented the power of God and how no man can stand against the will of God and last forever.
I also associated it also, however, with a peaceful sea. In that instance, the gently lapping waves and the soothing sounds as they came ashore, represented peace and love to me. That represented the loving God who loved us so much that he sacrificed His only Son for us. And that was the real power that He displayed, for love is the most powerful thing in the world when it is truly held in our hearts.
Power, peace and love. It's easy to relate those words to the beauty of the sea, calm or rough. But we need to remember that they ultimately belong to God, for it was God, our Creator, who created us and everything that makes up this world. We need to remember to care for the earth and all of her creatures and wonders wisely as His assigned guardian having dominion over all things on earth.
Dear Lord, We thank you for the wonderful hymns and the beautiful seas. They are both originated from you, be it thought, word or action, and help us remember that our all comes from you. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.