FAITH AND REFLECTION — George Young was a little-known, but dedicated preacher and carpenter. He spent his life serving in small communities with limited financial support. Though the monetary shortfalls presented challenges to the family, his wife was unwavering in her commitment to God and her husband. Over the course of years, combining her frugality with his carpentry skills, George built a small house and moved his family into it.
Later, when George was away on a preaching trip, some local ruffians, who resented George’s gospel teaching, set the Young house on fire, burning it to the ground. Young returned home and as he sadly observed the loss, he was reminded of the many priceless things that could not be destroyed by fire. As he intentionally recommitted his life to Christ, words began to form in his mind. Within three days, these words became verses and came together as a hymn. He entitled it “God Leads Us Along” and it was published in 1903.
Haldor Lillenas, born in Bergen, Norway, immigrated to South Dakota as a child. He later composed more than 4,000 hymns and founded the Lillenas Publishing Company. As a boy, a lady helped him learn English and also shared her faith in Christ with him. Consequently, Haldor learned English and became a Christian. But this same lady also repeatedly sang to him, a very comforting song entitled, “God Leads His Dear Children Along” … George Young’s hymn with a slightly different title.
Years later, Lillenas became curious about the writer of the hymn that had meant so much to him as a boy. He discovered that George had passed away, but that his widow was still living in a nearby town. Lillenas drove out to that town, to find that George Young’s widow was living in a rundown poorhouse. He was concerned for her and thinking he should find more suitable lodging for her, he kindly expressed his concern.
Mrs. Young’s perspective was quite different. She told Haldor that her and her husband were married quite young and that God had given them a wonderful life together. She explained that God “… put a song in my husband’s heart, based on Isaiah 43:2, that has helped people all over the world to deal with tragedy in their lives.” She went on to explain that God had led her to this home and she had been using it to bring in terminally ill people and help them through their last days. She concluded, “How thankful I am that God brought me to this place to minister to so many in need.”
“In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along; Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet, God leads His dear children along.” (All lyrics available at: http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/God_Leads_Us_Along/)