An Arkie's Faith column from the March 6, 2019, issue of The Mena Star.
John sat at the piano in his bedroom. Pressing the record button on his cassette recorder, he started to play. After playing several measures, he began to sing. “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be. When our time has come, we will be as one. God bless our love. God bless our love.”
John and his wife appreciated the poetry of Robert and Elizabeth Browning. One morning, she suggested that he write a song using Robert Browning’s poetry as a stimulus. That afternoon, John was watching TV when an old movie came on about a baseball player. In the film, the baseball player's girlfriend sent him a poem by Robert Browning. The poem was "Rabbi Ben Ezra" which opens with the lines; “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.”
John was struck by the coincidence and sat down to write. He penned a simple love song with the final verse: “Grow old along with me. Whatever fate decrees. We will see it through, for our love is true. God bless our love. God bless our love.”
John’s simple love song written for his wife, featuring simple themes of religion, romance, and commitment, has become well known even though the only recording he made of the song was a simple cassette recording made in his bedroom that November day in 1980. Grow Old with Me has become a popular wedding song. It is a very romantic song that's not about blinding passion, but about caring and commitment. When I was making a CD album to give to wedding guests at my daughter’s wedding, I included John’s home recording of Grow Old with Me.
John was planning to record Grow Old with Me in the studio for his next album. He envisioned the song as a standard, the kind that they would play in church when a couple gets married, lushly arranged with horns and strings. But John wouldn’t get the chance to record Grow Old with Me in the studio. Less than a month after sitting at the piano in his bedroom and recording his new song on a cassette, John was shot and killed in the archway of his apartment building as he returned home with his wife. His lyrics would not be fulfilled; “Spending our lives together. Man and wife together. World without end.”
John wrote many love songs in the forty years he lived on this earth. Some of my favorite words that he wrote are “Love is real, real is love. Love is feeling, feeling love. Love is wanting to be loved.” Another favorite love poem he wrote includes the lines; “From this moment on I know exactly where my life will go. Seems that all I really was doing was waiting for love.”
We all want to be loved, but not all of us find love. The greatest love poem ever written can be found in the Bible in John 3:16,17 (NKJV) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
What beautiful words. Notice that it is the whole world that God loves, not a single nation, not a single race. Not just the “good” people, not just the people who love God back. “God so loved the world.” He loves the lovable and the unlovable; The popular, and the unpopular; Those who love God, and those who never think of God.
Some people find it hard to accept the fact that God freely gives His love and grace. They want to place limits on God’s love. They prefer to think that God only loves the same people they love and that God despises the same people they despise.
To put it bluntly, these people are wrong. God loves the world, and that includes both those who are just like us and those who are totally different from us. If Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn people, why should we? Jesus came to lift people up, not to put them down. Jesus didn’t come to condemn us; Jesus came to offer us eternal life. We should follow His example.
Pastor Ty Gibson wrote, “I undergo the ultimate shift consciousness when I cease perceiving God as an authority figure who wants control and begin perceiving God as a husbandly figure who wants mutual love. Love alone is the agent God uses to expel sin from the heart.”
In Romans 8:37-39 (NCV), we find these beautiful words. “But in all these things we are completely victorious through God who showed his love for us. Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
No matter what circumstance you find yourself in, you will never be separated from the love God has for you. God wants you to know Him personally, and he wants to love you and be loved by you for eternity. God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” Jeremiah 31:3 (HCSB)
Gentle Reader, Jesus says to you, “I have loved you as the Father has loved me. Now continue in my love.” John 15:9 (ERV) In Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV) He tells you; “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And He promises that “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3 (NKJV) It is as if Jesus is saying to us: “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be. When our time has come. We will be as one. God bless our love.”