“As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him.” Matthew 9:9 (NASB)
The song, “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” is most closely associated with George Beverly Shea. But the words came from a poem Rhea Miller wrote in 1922.
The poem, called “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” had been inspired in part by her father after his battle with alcoholism, and how his faith had allowed him to be free from alcohol. He had commented how precious Jesus had been to him, and how wonderful it was to have Him in his life.
Echoing her father’s words, in her poem Rhea wrote, “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.”
Some might devote their lives to money, pleasures, or “worldwide fame.” But, to her, knowing Jesus was much more important. She would “rather have Jesus than men’s applause.” She would rather “be faithful to His dear cause” and “be true to His holy name.” It was better to have Jesus “than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sin’s dread sway,” than “anything this world affords today.”
Jesus had been so wonderful: “Fairer than lilies of rarest bloom … sweeter than honey from out the comb; He’s all that my hungering spirit needs.”
Eleven years later, George Beverly Shea was an aspiring singer considering offers for a commercial contract. His mother, knowing the decision weighing him down, placed a copy of Rhea’s poem on their piano. When George read the words, his life was changed. He wrote music that brought Rhea’s message to life. And he sang the resulting song thousands of times, before millions of people throughout the world.
Think about your life. Is there anything more important than having Jesus?
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for salvation and all the blessings You have poured out on my life. I love You more than anything else in the world. In Your name. Amen.
Devotion from Inspiration Ministries