Don’t rust . . !


THE other day while singing ‘Abide With Me’ I felt the power of the lyric enveloping me completely. I returned home and wondered who it was who had composed such a powerful hymn.

The little book I referred to told me it was Henry F Lyte, who lived between the years 1793 -1847. He had taken his thoughts from the 23rd Psalm which also is my favourite Psalm: ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’

I love this Psalm and when my father’s grave needed an inscription I immediately had words from the same Psalm engraved on his tomb. My father had had words from this Psalm hanging over the arch of our doorway, and I know it was a source of strength to him. I wondered what strength it had given Henry Lyte for him to create such meaningful verse. I decided to read more.

‘Throughout his lifetime’ said the book, ‘he was known as a man frail in body but strong in faith and spirit. His health was continually threatened by asthma and tuberculosis. Despite his physical frailties he was a tireless worker with an established reputation as a poet, musician and minister.’ But what struck me was the next line: ‘It was he who coined the phrase, ‘it is better to wear out than to rust out.’ What a powerful line.

I am sure he could have easily rusted out and nobody’d have blamed him for doing so what with a bad chest, TB and asthma attacks, but no, he strived, struggled and wore himself out. For the last twenty three years of his life Lyte pastored a poor parish among fishing people at Lower Brixham, Devonshire. During these years his strength became progressively worse. For his last sermon, it is recorded that Lyte nearly had to crawl to the pulpit and his message came as from a dying man! But he did it! I wonder how many of us are getting rusty and not doing our job anymore? It was just the other day while walking down an unfamiliar path that I saw the remains of an old garage. I love cars and gazed with surprise at an old bug Fiat that lay in the junkyard. It was rusted and broken and lay hopeless and beaten.

Next to it was another old Fiat, old but waiting to get on the road and give the other cars a run for their petrol. I wonder which car you are? The rusty one that gave up, or the other, old and worn out but rearing to go? Remember it is better to wear out than rust..!


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