A few weeks ago I re-read part of Liberating Ministry for the Success Syndrome by Kent and Barbra Hughes. I found the following story encouraging. I hope you will too.
It was Christmas Eve 1875 and Ira Sankey was traveling on a Delaware River steamboat when he was recognized by some of the passengers. His picture had been in the newspaper because he was the song leader for the famous evangelist D.L. Moody. They asked him to sing one of his own hymns, but Sankey demurred, saying he preferred to sing William B. Bradbury’s hymns “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us.” As he sang, one of the stanzas began, “We are Thine; do Thou befriend us. Be the Guardian of our way.”
When he finished, a man stepped from the shadows and asked, “Did you ever serve in the Union army?”
“Yes,” Mr. Sankey answered, “in the spring of 1860.”
“Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright, moonlit night in 1862?”
“Yes,” Mr. Sankey answered, very much surprised.
“So did I, but I was serving in the Confederate army. When I saw you standing at your post, I
thought to myself, ‘That fellow will never get away alive.’
“I raised my musket and took aim. I was standing in the shadows, completely concealed, while the full
light of the moon was falling upon you. At that instant, just as a moment ago, you raised your eyes
to heaven and began to sing . . .
“Let him sing his song to the end,’ I said to myself, ‘I can shoot him afterwards. He’s my victim
at all events, and my bullet cannot miss him.’
“But the song you sang then was the song you sang just now. I heard the words perfectly, ‘We are
Thine; do thou befriend us. Be the guardian of our way.’
“Those words stirred up many memories. I began to think of my childhood and my God-fearing mother.
She had many times sung that song to me.
“When you had finished your song, it was impossible for me to take aim again. I thought, ‘The Lord
who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty.’ And my arm of
its own accord dropped limp at my side.”
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).