Red Lighted Candle

Just as I am, without one plea

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve.

Because Thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

We usually think of this as an invitational song, one sung to invite sinners to accept the grace that Jesus offers to those who think they are most undeserving. I think it has another message, too: When we feel like we’ve got life figured out and can make it on our own, we still have nothing that enables us to look God in the eye, so to speak, other than the blood of Jesus. In other words, when we feel like a miserable failure, Jesus is available; and when we think we are on top of the world, Jesus is all we can offer.

Quite often when I think of this song, I also think of a Jewish folk tale, as follows:

One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for the Sukkot festival, which gives you six months to find it.”

“If it exists anywhere on earth, your Majesty,” replied Benaiah, “I will find it and bring it to you. But what makes the ring so special?”

“It has special powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister some added humility.

Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the day before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a special ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah.

He watched the elderly man take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke into a wide smile.

That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. “Well, my friend,” said King Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?” All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled.

To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!” As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: Gimel, Zayin, Yud, which begin the words “Gam zeh ya’avor – This too shall pass.”

As you enter this Sabbath day, I pray that whatever your circumstances—whether you feel needy or not—you will find the joy of knowing that because of Christ, and only because of Christ, you are able to enter into this day of rest, knowing that God Himself is pleased with you and wants to spend time with you. I encourage you to spend time with Him.

Shabbat Shalom!