George Beverly Shea, 104, of Montreat, North Carolina, soloist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), died (April 16, 2013) Tuesday evening following a brief illness.
Since George Beverly Shea first sang for Graham in 1943 on the Chicago radio hymn program, “Songs in the Night,” Shea has faithfully carried the Gospel in song to every continent and every state in the Union. Graham’s senior by ten years, Shea devotedly preceded the evangelist in song in nearly every Crusade over the span of more than one-half century.
“When I see you in the glory land, if God permits me to be there with you, I just want to go over and sit down for a thousand years with each one of you and talk. Won’t that be wonderful, sit down, by the Tree of Life? And you know we’ll be entertained by all the great singers. There’ll be Sankey, and Beverly Shea, and all of them, over on the hill over there, just a singing the praises of God. We’ll be sitting down by the Tree of Life, where the waters are coming out from under the throne. Won’t that be marvelous? I just long for the day. What does it matter to a Christian that’s really anchored in Christ, for just as soon as this old earthly tabernacle is taken away, we move right into another one, it’s right there. My, isn’t that marvelous? Think, sick, and weary, and broke down, and heartbroken, everything going wrong, the world all in a turmoil, and think well, “Come, Lord Jesus.” The first thing you know, this old shaky body, begins to wither away, and you feel the pains a moving to it, the chilly death moving up the sleeve. Then look standing yonder; there’s a brand new body, standing right there. Just move out of this one, right into that one.”
~ William Branham, March 2nd, 1955 The Curtain Of Time
I’d Rather Have Jesus – The Lyrics
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.
Than to be a king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway,
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.
He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.
I’d Rather Have Jesus – The History
I’d Rather Have Jesus is a song written by Rhea F. Miller with the tune written by George Beverly Shea. This poem, written in 1922, was left on a piano in the Shea home by Bev Shea who wanted her son to find it and change the course of his life.
The words, I’d rather have Jesus, moved George so much and spoke to him about his own aims and ambitions in life. He sat down at the piano and began singing them with a tune that seemed to fit the words. Shea’s mom heard him singing it and asked him to sing it at church the next day.
George’s life direction did change. He was offered a popular music career with NBC, but a few years later chose to become associated with evangelist Billy Graham and sang this hymn around the world.
I’d Rather Have Jesus – The Bible’s Support
This hymn is about dedication and commitment. To follow after Jesus is costly. Matthew 16:24-26 says: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’” I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold. . .
Philippians 1:21 reminds us: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead. . .
Philippians 3:8 says, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame, I’d rather be true to His holy name. . .
Praise God for the words of Rhea Miller and the caring of Bev Shea. Because of them, George followed after Jesus and we are blessed with the fruit.