SEPTEMBER 14

Knit Together in Love

Bible Reading: Colossians 2:1-7

Colossians 2:2, “Being knit together in love”

It is a beautiful thing when God works to knit folks together in love!  That He is well able to take us–in the diversity of our personalities and backgrounds and individual hopes and dreams–and make us to be One in Him, speaks to the glory of who He is.  We experience in such unity a glimpse of that which exists in the Triune God and a foretaste of that which awaits us in heaven.  Years ago I wrote the following regarding John Fawcett, the writer of Blest Be the Tie that Binds, and his experience.  Be encouraged by his story…

John Fawcett was only 12 years old when he was left without parents.  He became an apprentice to a tailor and worked 14 hours a day.  One of his few joys was reading Pilgrim’s Progress by candlelight on the floor of his attic room.  His entire Christian experience was rooted in what he learned from that book.

When he was 15 years old, George Whitefield came to his town.  An estimated 20,000 people gathered in an open field to hear Whitefield speak.  He spoke on John 3:14, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”  Then the invitation was given.  All across the field people responded.  John Fawcett was among them.  Later, John made his way to the famous preacher.  John confided in him his desire to preach the gospel and George Whitefield encouraged him in that.

The Bible became a new book to John.  He joined a small group of believers who met in private homes in Bradford.  When his apprenticeship was finished, he gave himself completely to the work of the ministry.  At age 18, he married a Christian girl named Mary.  Sometime later, he was called to pastor a small group of believers in Wainsgate.  The building was nothing but a small, horribly dark and damp chapel.  A few stools were all they had for furnishings.

There was no parsonage, so he and his wife lived with members of the church—rotating from house to house.  His genuine interest in the welfare of the people won their affections.  The church grew and so did his family.  They brought four children into the world in five years.  The church raised their meager salary of 200 dollars a year by 25%, but the increase was given in wool and potatoes.

About that time, an invitation came from a large church in London.  Their pastor had gotten too old to preach, so they were looking for a candidate.  It seemed to be the chance of a lifetime.  He journeyed to London and captivated the audience with his simple exposition of the Scriptures.  He returned home with a call to fill that influential pulpit.  His wife, Mary, agreed they should go.

When he announced he was leaving Wainsgate, the church was filled with consternation.  It seemed they could never replace their beloved friend and pastor.  Nevertheless, they made arrangements for his departure.  On that day, the congregation loaded the family’s belongings onto six or seven wagons for the trip to London.  Finally, the last box of books was loaded.  The children were set in their places. John and Mary began saying their goodbyes.  Most of the congregation was weeping.  Finally, overwhelmed by their sadness, John and Mary sat down on a packing case and began to weep.  Looking up at last, Mrs. Fawcett said, “Oh, John, John, I cannot bear this.  I know not how to go!”  “Nor I, either” said John, “nor will we go.  Unload the wagons and put everything back in its place.”

Quickly, the news spread through the crowd.  Sorrow was turned into joy, tears to laughter.  Pastor and flock were bound together even stronger than they were before.  A letter was sent to the church in London.  John went to work preparing his next Sunday’s sermon.  That Sunday, he preached from Luke 12:15, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things he possesseth.”  He finished his sermon with a hymn he had written at midnight the night before.  The hymn said this:

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

The story behind the hymn helps us to better understand the third verse…

We share our mutual woes
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

John Fawcett went on caring for the flock and preaching the Word.  Eventually a new building seating 600 was built.  A day school for neighboring children and training school for young pastors was opened.  Eventually he went on to write “An Essay on Anger” which became a favorite of King George III who offered to John any benefit he could confer upon him.  The offer was declined with this statement from him “that he lived among his own people, enjoyed their love: God had blessed their labors among them, and he needed nothing which even a king could supply.”

John Fawcett and his wife, Mary, served the congregation for 54 years.  He died at the age of 78.  And the last stanza of his hymn came to fruition….

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

BLEST BE THE TIE THAT BINDS

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship our spirit finds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one—
Our comforts and our cares.

We share our mutual woes;
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

One thought on “SEPTEMBER 14

  1. Wow!! What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing this wonderful life of such a man that followed God’s leading. I’d never heard of John Fawcett before. Thank you again for this story and the hymn that he wrote.

    Like

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