“These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:13-15, ASV
Kate Hankey loved Jesus and her greatest desire was to take Him into the world. She grew up in London, in a Christian home where the family often gathered with friends for Bible Study. Kate eventually started her own studies, taking her knowledge of the scriptures to the girls of her neighborhood and the women who worked in the factories of London. She wanted the poor and downhearted to see the grace of God.
Kate was about thirty years old when she became seriously ill. Her doctor insisted that she must stop her Bible studies for a time, and she spent nearly a year in bed. Though she was not able to share the Gospel with her students, she did not stop telling the story of Jesus. She spent the year writing poetry, including a long poem in two parts, “The Story Wanted” and “The Story Told.” This poem eventually became two beloved hymns, “Tell Me the Old, Old Story” and “I Love to Tell the Story.”
It doesn’t matter how well we know the story or how firm we stand in God’s grace, we all have moments of doubt and fear. We all have moments when we need to hear the Gospel story to remind us that we have eternal life. John may have written his letter to a people who were knew in faith, but the words are written for us, too. Despite two thousand years of Christianity, we still need to be assured that God’s promises are true.
My favorite verse of “I Love to Tell the Story” is the third one. “I love to tell the story, for those who know it best; Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest; And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song; ‘Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.” We do hunger and thirst to hear the words of grace as much (perhaps even more) than those who have never heard them at all. John assures us that the message we have heard, the message we have told, is real and true. God’s promises are real and true. God is faithful.
And so this day, let us tell the story, shout the story, sing the story, paint the story, write the story, live the story, share the story with everyone we meet. The story is true; we are assured of eternal life in Christ. Like John, we are sent into the world to remind each other that God is listening and He is willing to answer our prayers according to His good and perfect will. He hears those who pray in faith and He is gracious for all who believe.