Part 3 “More Precious Than Silver” – Reflections on the 40th Anniversary

Death Before Fruitfulness

As I think about the events surrounding the writing of “More Precious Than Silver,” I am reminded of a principal that I don’t hear too much about these days, that of dying to self. I’m not speaking of religious self-flagellation, or poor-mouthing yourself all the time. I’m talking about the command of Jesus to take up your cross and follow Him. What does it mean to take up your cross? Simply this: the cross that Christians are called to bear is the one where our will crosses His will.

When God spoke to me about laying down my guitar, I had a decision to make. My music was very important to me – almost all the self-esteem I could muster up came from being able to play my music “for the Lord.” How could God possibly take that away from me? I chose to trust Him, but it was still difficult.

Putting selfish flesh to death is a hard business and, let’s face it, dying flesh stinks. In ancient times, fragrant spices were used to prepare bodies for burial in order to mask the stench of death as a body decomposed. When Jesus’s body was taken down from the cross, myrrh was one of the
spices used to prepare His body for burial (see John 19:39-40). Myrrh is also one of the spices used in the anointing oil of the tabernacle worship. One of the blessings of the Holy Spirit coming into our lives is that He works to mask the stench of our dying flesh as we learn take up our cross and follow Jesus. We begin to produce the fragrance of the Christ within us, even in the midst of our “dying.” (See II Corinthians 2:14-16)

Jesus, speaking of His own imminent death, said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Before a single grain of wheat can produce a stalk bearing multiple grains, it must first go into the ground where it dies. Its hard exterior is softened through a process hidden from view until the germ of life within is finally able to sprout up through the soil. The tender green shoot is the first sign of the harvest to come.

Giving up my guitar was a death experience for me. I was “buried” for a season, like that grain of wheat, until I was pliable enough for the eternal life of Jesus within me to sprout up first as a tender green shoot, then on to maturity with abundant fruitfulness.“More Precious Than Silver” was the first of about sixty songs published by Integrity Music over the span of my career, and I published another sixty or so songs on my own projects. Because of Integrity Music’s global reach, many of my songs were also carried to other nations and often translated into the regional languages. None of that fruitfulness would have been possible without my hidden period of testing.

To be continued.