I wasn’t planning on posting a song this weekend. I have a lot of work to do, and really should be off doing it. But we sang a song in church last night, one we’ve sung a few times in the past, that got stuck in my head, so I figured I’d better go look up the lyrics so I could sing the whole thing and eject it (I generally have to hear a whole song through a time or two before I can get it unstuck). Anyway, I did manage to find the lyrics after some searching, and went to see if there was a recorded version on YouTube.
To my shock, the only versions I’m able to find anywhere leave out the last, and what I consider to be the most important verse of the song. Before I go futher, let me share the lyrics with you so you’ll know what I’m talking about:
When He Calls I’ll Fly Away
1. There was once a time when, in my heart, I was condemned to die;
I was walking in my sinful ways.
Jesus paid the ransom for my soul, I bade this world goodbye;
When He calls me I will fly away.
When He calls me, I will answer “Here am I!” — I am ready, if He wants me to die.
There’s a mansion now awaiting me on high — I am going there by and by.
I have made my preparation, from this world a separation;
I am walking on God’s highway, when he calls I will fly away.
2. I could never think of turning back into this world of sin.
I’m rejoicing in the gospel way.
I am longing for the time when heaven I shall enter in —
I am ready should he call today.
3. If He needs me in this harvest, helping gather in the sheaves,
I will gladly labor on below.
If on earth my work is finished, and it’s time for me to leave,
When He calls me I’ll be glad to go.
Here’s the thing. It really bothers me that this third verse has been left out in the popular recordings. It doesn’t really surprise me, but it does bother me.
One of the biggest temptations we face as Christians (and when I say we, I definitely mean myself included, as this is absolutely my biggest problem) once we’ve gotten our own affairs more or less in order, is to just sit back and wait. This problem is huge in the church, because it’s the temptation that most affects Christians that have been around a while.
Most people aren’t that likely to sit back saying, “I’m ready to come home, Lord” or “Lord, come quickly”. Some don’t believe, and to them this entire idea is ridiculous. Some are busy reveling in their pet sins and figure they’ve got plenty of time to straighten up before the end. Some have people depending on them. Some have goals, either in their personal lives or in their ministries, that they’re trying to complete. Some just love their lives and aren’t ready to leave yet.
But those of us who truly believe, have more or less gotten our acts together, and who are tired, for one reason or another, often fall into the trap of just sitting around begging God to bring us home. I’ve wasted years of my life this way. In my case, it’s because I don’t enjoy life here at all. I’m in pain, all the time, and I’m almost always tired. Further, I have no children dependent on me sticking around, and at least right now, no clear ministry. The promise of a place with no more disease or pain, where I get to spend all of my time singing praises, is overwhelmingly appealing to me.
Songs that remind me of that blessed promise really speak to me, as they do to most of the older Christians I know. There are some services where every single song we sing is about going on home, and I don’t usually pick the songs, so I know this feeling resonates with others.
Here’s the thing, though. We have a JOB to be doing. I wasn’t intending for this post to get this long, so I won’t go into all of the scriptures, but they’re abundant. We’re not supposed to be sitting around waiting to go home, we’re supposed to be out in the world sharing the good news, making disciples, and making a difference in the world.
This is a great song, when you read it all the way to the end, but without the last verse it’s just another temptation. It’s just another great melody distracting us from what we’re really supposed to be doing. There’s no harm in looking forward to the life to come, but we need to do so acknowledging that, for whatever His reasons, God hasn’t come back and He hasn’t called us home yet.
I have a policy that I won’t let myself sing a song unless I can agree fully with it’s lyrics. This one’s a tough one for me, but I’m singing the song, so I am endeavoring to live up to it. If He needs me in this harvest, I will gladly labor here. I just hope He gives me a better picture of what I’m supposed to be doing soon.
Oh, and I recorded the song, just so it’ll be out there somewhere in full. It’s not the best recording, it’s a capella, and I was probably singing too low, but here it is :P