Recently, this hymn came alive in my heart from a memory. It was June, 1979 and my Dad had died. Of all the hymns, this is the one Dad loved the most. Mother insisted we walk down the aisle of the church toward the casket that held my Dad. We would walk as a family, singing this hymn.
How could I sing without being interrupted by tears? The short aisle lengthened to an endless walk in my mind. Do you have a hymn that marks an important moment in your life? Sometimes the message of the hymn takes a lifetime to grasp the meaning.
I remember the Doxology and it reminds me of Mom’s constant Praise to God for the little things happening each day! Jesus Loves Me reminds me that no matter what happens in life, Jesus truly loves me, and you. He is constantly present in my heart and mind.
Living with Jesus in my heart is my heart’s one desire. What do I remember about this one hymn we sang for Dad? Although Dad was always a bit off key as he sang, his enthusiasm could not be dampened. The essence and the meaning of each hymn left an indelible mark on my Dad’s heart and this hymn was no exception.
I Know Whom I Have Believed came from the scripture, 2 Timothy 1:12b - …for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.
For I know Whom I have Believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that Day.
Now I understand Dad’s last testimony to all who were a part of the walk down the aisle and those who witnessed, of his deep faith in Christ Jesus. Now the words bring me the understanding ‘to keep that which I’ve committed’. This scripture permeates my thoughts, my words and actions to be Christ-like.
‘Unto Him against that day’. As I near the ‘setting sun of life’, I understand more fully the essence and commitment of what faith in Jesus means.
There is so much I don’t know of how the intricacies of the Holy Spirit brings me to this point, but I know the Holy Spirit continues to teach me every moment. I don’t know what good or bad things will happen in my life, yet, I know if I believe in Jesus, He holds my life in His Hands.
I don’t know when Jesus will come or what the direction my ‘exit lane’ from life will take. The last stanza of the hymn is this: I know not when my Lord may come, At night or noonday fair, Nor if I walk the vale with Him, Or meet Him in the air.
I learned about the composer of these lyrics, Major D. W. Whittle, a Civil War Veteran wrote these words. Why did he begin each stanza with “I know not…?” From several histories of this hymn, I learned that Major Daniel Whittle enlisted in the 72nd Illinois infantry during the Civil War and headed into the bloodiest conflict. He was wounded in the Battle of Vicksburg and taken prisoner. In one of the battles, his arm had been amputated above the elbow. As he began healing, he wanted something to read. He searched his haversack and found the New Testament his mother had placed there as she said goodbye with many tears. He began reading in Matthew and continued to Revelation. He was surprised he could understand God’s Word so easily. When he finished Revelation, he began reading through the New Testament again, and again, without having any intention of becoming a Christian.
One midnight a nurse awakened Major Whittle to pray for one of his men. The young soldier had begged the nurse to pray for him, but she could not and would not. Since the nurse had seen Major Whittle reading the New Testament, it would follow, Major Whittle could pray. His answer? I can’t pray, I never prayed in my life and I am just as wicked as you are!!!
Major Whittle went with the nurse to the bed of the young soldier as he lay dying. He listened to the young soldier, pleading for prayer. He heard the Holy Spirit saying, “You know the way of salvation. Get right down on your knees, accept Christ, and pray for this boy.”
He knelt, confessed his sins, and became Christ’s child, and continued in earnest prayer for the young soldier. When a look of peace and a quietness came over the young soldier’s countenance, Major Whittle knew the young soldier had died. He realized in this moment, God used the young soldier to bring him to the Savior.
I know not how this saving faith – To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in his Word – Wrought peace within my heart.
John 5:24-25 - …for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.
I Timothy 1:5-6 - The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions.
John 1:11-13 - He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.