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The Paradox of Serving Jesus


This story has a surprise ending, so be sure to read it all the way to the end.

Margaret Clarkson was a young schoolteacher who taught in a logging community in Canada in the 1950s. She was in poor health and felt very alone there. One night, she read John 20:21, where Jesus told His followers, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” She wrote, “God seemed to tell me that night that this was my mission field, and this was where He had sent me.”

That night, she wrote the lyrics to the song, “So Send I You.” The song reflected what she felt as she thought about what it meant to serve God. Her description of following Jesus, though true in some ways, described a very sad, difficult life.

Margaret Clarkson wrote this song in 1954 and resigned herself to do all of those things. But over time, she learned that there was real joy in obedience. Looking back on the lyrics, she regretted what she had written.

So, she rewrote the song in 1963. But it was a very different song now.

Where she had written “So Send I you to labor unrewarded” now she spoke of “So Send I you, by grace made strong in triumph”

“To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing” became “My name to bear, and in that name to conquer”

“To toil for Me alone” became “My victory to win”

“To labor long, and love where men revile you” became “to prove my power, My grace, My promised presence”

Finally, the first song spoke of tasting of Calvary, but the second assures the obedient servant of hearing, “Well done, my faithful servant, Come share my throne, my kingdom, and my crown.”

What happened between 1954 and 1963? Both songs, written by the same woman, show very different attitudes.

It is not that her outward circumstances changed. But God gave her joy in her obedience to Him. She had a new, happy message to bring. Many of us, and many before us, have found that abiding joy when we are obedient to God.

He really can change our attitudes, give joy in sorrow, peace even in pain, and so much more. What was the difference for Margaret Clarkson? She obeyed in spite of her feelings and found joy. It really is available to all of us.

By Sharlene Howard Scott


The Complete Book of Hymns by William J. and Ardythe Peterson, 2006

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