Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winning the Gold

John Eldredge and Brent Curtis weave a compelling story of a nineteenth century discuss thrower who developed his skills in his native Scottish highlands before professional trainers existed (The Sacred Romance/Thomas Nelson). 
The would-be competitor made his own discus from a description he read in a book. He failed to understand that the discus used in competition would be made of wood and only rimmed with iron. Thus, he made his discus of solid metal, three or four times the weight of a competition discus.
He measured his field and marked the distance of the current record holder, and began training. He practiced for nearly a year, using his self-imposed burden. When finally able to match the record, he traveled to England  and confidently prepared to compete; he was ready to win the gold.

When officials handed our hero an official discus made of wood, and only rimmed with iron, he promptly threw it like a tea saucer and set a new record. He threw it so far that no one could match him and for many years he remained the uncontested champion.

A tenting accident became that iron discus for Charles, a young minister. An accident stole Charles’s career and left him lying on a bed of pain for the next forty-one years. There, chained to his bed by self-pity and depression, Charles laid in a depressed state for eight long years before rediscovering the power of faith.

"Faith produces the building blocks wherewith we build up life,” wrote C. W. Naylor (The Secret of the Singing Heart/Warner Press/96). Stumbling along in his dark night of affliction, Charles re-discovered God in the darkness of his own soul. Determining that God had not deserted him, Naylor now turned from his self-imposed condemnation and accepted his limitation. Thus, he began writing a new chapter in his life.

God opened “doors of opportunity to me in a most unexpected way,” he confessed, (Singing Heart/ 69). Fresh discoveries of God’s abounding grace radiated from his humble Hoosier bungalow. Re-assured of God’s loving grace, Naylor faithfully pushed his pen across page after page of joyous faith.

His drooping spirit began to lift, like a sagging Spruce branch rising with the melting of its heavy snow-burden. Naylor’s singing heart overcame his pain and suffering. Moreover, his new audience delighted in his new inspirational writings and his audience became larger and more effective than ever..

After twenty-one years of constant suffering, Naylor concluded, “I am happy, I am happy everyday, I will not have it any other way.”  A singing heart did not eliminate those difficult days when the bed-ridden preacher had “to pull hard on the rope” to make the joy bells “to ring.”

However, Naylor wrote, “I have learned that troubles do not make unhappiness” and I “kept on pulling until they pealed out their joyous tones” (p. 50).

One of the numerous hymns that Naylor wrote was this one that comes from Romans 8:35-39.  Written prior to his accident, it establishes the benchmark of our faith. It also prepared Charles Wesley Naylor for the very dark tunnel ahead of him, and the singing heart he would discover  through the renewing of his faith:

            Whether I live or die,
                        Whether I wake or sleep,
            Whether upon the land
                        Or on the stormy deep;
            When ‘tis serene and calm
                        Or when the wild winds blow,
            I shall not be afraid--
                        I am the Lord’s I know.

            When with abundant store
                        Or in deep poverty,
            And when the world may smile
                        Or it may frown on me;
            When it shall help me on
                        Or shall obstruct my way,
            Still shall my heart rejoice--
                        I am the Lord’s today.
                                                            (Worship the Lord/1989/639).
            Later, C. W Naylor recalled the earlier events in his life that led to his writing of this popular hymn.  He was a young itinerant minister, but circumstance dictated that he put aside his traveling evangelistic ministry so that he might care for his injured grandfather. One gray day while sitting by the window, Charles watched the falling raindrops.

Overcome momentarily with a spirit of depression resulting from his inactivity and lack of local preaching opportunities, Charles meditated on his circumstances. After quieting his spirit before God, he concluded. “Well, if I can do nothing, I am the Lord’s anyway.”

With that thought percolating in his mind, the young preacher took pencil and paper in hand, and began to write. Recounting that event in an article he wrote later, he admitted that the words he wrote expressed “the feelings that were in my heart as nearly as I could in the words of song” (Warner Press/Vital Christianity/7-4-76).

            Adversities come and go, but faith fortifies us in the knowledge
            There’s no defeat in life
                        Save from within;
            Unless you’re beaten there
                        You’re bound to win.
                                                            (Singing Heart/11)

From Warner’s World, I am

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