Blessed Assurance

by Arnold Nelson

When I first started going to Hope Methodist Church in 1998 They had a time during the service when all the children were invited to come to the front of the church and talk to the pastor. The pastor told good stories and the kids loved them, so did the rest of the congregation. After that pastor retired and we got a new pastor she did not want to do the time for children every Sunday so she asked anyone in the congregation that wanted to take a turn.

One week I decided I wanted to do it. I went up to Peggy, the lady who scheduled the talks, and told her I was interested in doing one. She looked at her scheduled and gave me a date. It turned out to be Super Bowl Sunday but that didn't bother me. So I started figuring out what I wanted to say and how to say it. I also did a little research just to make sure all my facts were right.

When the time came Peggy (who is a very good friend of mine) said Arnold, even if there are no kids in the first service tell you story anyway the adults like to hear it too. The first service there was 1 little girl so I talked to her while the rest of the church listened. It went great. I gave the same talk at the second service I think I had 3 or 4 kids then. This was talk as well as I can remember it. I held up a picture and asked if any of the kids knew who she was, none did. I did not expect anyone to. I said I bet if I showed this picture around the church not more then one or two people who know who she was, but everyone in this church has sung her music.

Her name is Fanny Crosby she wrote over 8000 hymns and is the Guinness book of records for writing the most hymns . Here are some of my favorite Crosby hymns. More like Jesus, Pass Me Not, Praise Him Praise Him, To God be the Glory, and Saved by Grace.

What was unique about Crosby was that she was blind. She was not born blind but at the age of 6 months she got sick and the Doctor treating her used medicine that was too strong and she lost her sight. She often said she was glad she was blind because if she could see she would get side tracked and not be able to write as much.

Actually she did not write the hymns, she worked them out in her head and someone else had to write them down for her (This was before Braille). She often worked on as many as 3 hymns as once. She would put out 5 or 6 hymns a day. She gave most of her money to help the poor. She lived in the poorest sections of New York City most of her live. She was born in 1820 and died in 1915.

In 1980 my Dad had a stroke and was hospitalized for several months. When I found out, I was worried about my Mom. My Mom did not drive and the closest relatives were about 40 miles away. So I quit my job, stored most of my things with a friend, and drove 1000 miles from Monmouth, Oregon to Redlands, California in about 16 hours. I stay with my Mom until my Dad got out of the hospital. I drove her anywhere she wanted to go, anytime she wanted to go.

She was happy to have me there. We had a routing every Sunday morning when I got up she had the TV on and was singing along with the Gospel music shows. I would sit down and we both were sing with the TV. Neither of us could sing very well but we had a lot of fun trying. Then when it was time I would go off to a church service.

There was one song that was played quite a bit I thought it was the most beautiful song I ever heard. It was called Blessed Assurance and it was sung by the Cloud Indian family. When I got back to Oregon I did some research and found out it was written by Fanny Crosby. That was how I got so interested in her.

That 4 or 5 months I spent with my Mom was some of the best months of my life. In Jan 1981 my Dad got out of the hospital for good and he came home and took over so I went back to Oregon. About a year later I got the call everyone dreads. My Mom was in the hospital and not expected to live more then a few days.

So my two sisters, Linda and Karen, that live in the Portland area drove down and picked me up. We drove to Redlands together. When we got to the Hospital we went in to See my Mom. She saw my little sister Karen and said Karen! That was the last word she ever said. She died about 3 hours later. When she died she had 7 of her 8 children around her. My brother Gary could not make it he was busy getting a car ready for the Daytona 500. He could only get away for a couple of days and was there for the funeral.

If I had known my Mom only had 1 more year to live I would have never left her, but we never know those things do we, only God knows those things. At the end of the service when everyone was leaving the pianist (who was also a good friend of mine) was playing Blessed assurance and Peggy was humming it as she put the bells away.

The next Sunday I came in and looked at the bulletin and the Introit was Blessed Assurance done by the bells and the Choir. It was dedicated to Arnold Nelson and his family. I could not believe it. I tried to sing along but when you are crying it is hard to sing. After the service Peggy asked me if I liked it. I gave her a big hug and said thank you I loved it.

I was hooked after that every 3 or 4 months I would tell another story and everyone loved my stories.

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