On Wednesday we visited a church in York, PA with friends to see worship leader Kristian Stanfill and the Passion tour. Passion City Church is based in Atlanta and is home to Chris Tomlin, Stanfill, David Crowder and head pastor Louis Giglio. They hold a conventions yearly for college students age 18-25 and their leaders. These conventions include dynamic speakers and great music. If you have a chance, buy or download any of the Passion worship albums and you will not regret it.
Stanfill’s message for the night was centered around the concept of this year’s Passion conference: Take it All. He wrote a song about it that I’ll include at the end of the post. The song contains part of the hymn, I Surrender All and a member of Stanfill’s band, also a pastor, delivered a short message about its writing.
The hymn was written by a man named Judson W. Van DeVenter. Van DeVenter lived in western Pennsylvania. He was an art teacher and struggled with his desire to be known for his art and an increasing pull towards evangelism. One night, he had an experience that changed his life. He said this:
For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, He caused me to sing.
We spend our lives chasing something. It can be money, fame, stuff, love, sex, children, anything. We fill in our blanks, “If I just had ____, then I’d be happy.” Our nature is to search for security, for guaranteed results, for a five-year plan that happens step-by-step.
God calls us to a different path.
At the end of his ministry career, in the 1930’s, Van DeVenter taught at the Florida Bible Institute. A young student at the institute studied and worked with him. This student went on to use I Surrender All during each one of his crusades and revivals. His name was Billy Graham.
Van DeVenter’s sacrifice led to the millions of people impacted by Billy Graham’s ministry.
There are many opportunities in this country to serve, many places that need people with talents like yours. There are open doors waiting for you to walk through. There is hope and grace, new each morning at the foot of the Cross.
When our lives are in his hands, anything is possible.