In 1996 we suffered a spiritual firestorm at our church that threw us into deep conflict over ministry vision, vicious personal assaults, and lack of confidence in me as the pastor. For three long years those humiliating months stayed lodged in my soul, lacing everything I did and said with caution, and causing me in my relationships to hold many at arm’s length for fear of repeating the hurt. Feeling the slide toward despair over finding freedom in ministry again, I often cried out to God, “I can’t take it anymore! Help me!”
God did send help in the blood of his Son.
At the end of 1999 churches of our community gathered in what we called a Solemn Assembly. Midway through that incredible week of sensing the nearness of Jesus, and drawn to repentance from worshiping so many things other than God, our small groups were deep in united prayer. As we prayed, someone began softly playing the hymn, “Nothing but the Blood.”
The soft piano music brought the small groups back together in singing, except for mine. Our group stayed huddled about me, praying for me, a man deeply shattered by a vision of Jesus’ blood flowing like a river from the foot of his cross.
In that moment, the Lord reminded me of how much he had forgiven me, and then said something like this: “You don’t have to take it anymore – the offense. Let me have the offense of others against you. Simply, cast those offenses into my grace flowing from the cross.” As I knelt there in a bath of tears, I saw myself doing that very thing, and instantly felt freedom from the years of crushing hurt.
When we feel we can’t take it anymore, let’s go to Jesus. We don’t need to take offense, but can give to him and find he is able to deliver us from the burden of carrying it ourselves.
You can listen to the hymn, Nothing But the Blood…
For an upbeat version, capturing how I felt after that time of prayer, listen to it in the middle of this YouTube rendition featuring Charity Gayle from People & Songs. This recording of People & Songs begins with the song Cleansed and is followed by Look at What the Lord Has Done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqnT9JRm8dA
For a traditional rendering go to this video featuring Buddy Greene on harmonica and the good folks at GaitherVEVO singing together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJnD272vmns
For a history of this hymn as used in Methodist hymnals, go to the following article by Dr. C. Michael Hawn (Distinguished professor of church music at Perkins School of Theology): https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-nothing-but-the-blood