“Then Jesus said to his disciples,If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 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?” -Matthew 16:24-26 (NIV) 24
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
Than to be the king of a vast domain Or be held in sin’s dread sway I’d rather have Jesus than anything This world affords today
God values His relationship with each of His people and worship is a response of love to the One we adore most. In fact it was A. W. Tozer, who once said, “Worship is to feel in your heart.”
The Great Depression in America in the late 1920s and early 30s is a landmark in their history. We could get a “feel” what it was by watching [again] the films Sea Biscuit and Cinderella Man. It was a day that was remembered as people lining up the streets for their ration of food and for most of the time it was not enough. It wasa time when people would find their work for the day—for the day—not knowing if there would still be work for them tomorrow. It was a very difficult time for many.
George Beverly Shea was one of those people who experienced the GreatDepression. He was a man who had a fine musical talent and his voice is characterized with a warmth and simplicity of style accompanied by a rich bass-baritone vocal quality [101 More Hymn Stories].
One day, he was given an opportunity for a “break”. A director of a network radio station heard him and made plans and arrangements for him to audition. It will be for a national program with well-known singers of his time. Kenneth Osbeck described it this way:
“Bev was thrilled with the prospect of singing on a network radio program, of being heard by large numbers of people, and having a chance to make ‘big money’ for a change. After passing the audition test, he just did not feel right about accepting this ‘once in a life-time’ offer… ‘No’ was a strange word to such an offer, as positions such as these were rare during those depression days, and thousands of young singers would have leaped at such an opportunity.”
On the outside, it might be said of him, “He did not feel right about performing secular music”
. But turning to the song to which George Beverly Shea is ascribed to as composer it has captured what he really wanted to say: “I’d rather have Jesus than anything…than to be the king of a vast domain…” What could be impractical or even a waste to others is simply worship to the one who value the love of God.
He continued to live with his parents during that time and he sang at the church where his father served as minister and other local churches as well. He continued to serve God through singing and for more than 30 years, he went with Billy Graham whenever he would speak before people around the world as well as on radio and television making him the only singer who sang before the largest number of people gathered together—something that, we might say, surpassed his expectations to be heard when he said NO many years back.
He was given an honorary doctorate degree from Houghton College on recognition of his many years of effective Christian Ministry. He lived to a good ripe old age of 104.
“Without question, ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’ is the best loved song that Mr. Shea sings and one which has become his ‘trademark’ to the present time,’ says Kenneth Osbeck. “The power that this song has had the influencing and changing lives forGod will be fully evaluated only in eternity.”