In 1932, when the depression had taken its toll in unemployment, hunger, and fear, George Beverly Shea was offered a fabulous salary to go into radio. Something made him hesitate. As he told the story, I did’nt know what made me put off signing the contract. His mother, a beautiful Christian, had always wanted him to give his voice to God.
One day she copied a poem written by Rhea F. Miller ten years earlier and laid them on the piano. Shea came in and found them. He sat awhile meditating on them. His fingers begin wandering across the keyboard and then there came to him the melody to this beautiful song:
Id rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
Id rather be His than have riches untold;
Id rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
Id rather be led by His nail scared hands
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sins dread sway;
Id rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
Note: Rhea F. Miller (1894-1964) was the wife of Dr. Howard Miller who later became a General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. I remember when Mr. Shea gave a concert at Detroit First Church of the Nazarene where I was the pastor. He told the story and sang the hymn; this is a moment I treasure.
Click here to watch George Beverly Shea sing: