Heaven Is Waiting
The Canticle of the Plains
by Rich Mullins &  Mitch McVicker

My Deliverer

by Rich Mullins/Mitch McVicker

Reflection #1 on 'My Deliverer' by Rich Mullins & Mitch McVicker

In the classic Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life," George Bailey is brought to the brink of suicide by a financial downturn in his family-owned company. Overcome with a spirit of depression, George fears for his family's security. Because the depth of despair is more than he thinks he can handle, we find him leaning over a bridge railing about to leap. 

If you've seen the film, you know that George's suicide jump is undermined by the appearance of a messenger from heaven. Clarence Oddbody AS2, a most unlikely angel, challenges George's melancholy by allowing him to see what a wonderful life he has in spite of the company's dilemma. Clarence is the deliverer George needed. As a result of the angel's intervention, the young father's life is spared and his perspective revised.

Unfortunately, the life-and-death crises that make for great drama in the movies are all-too prevalent in real life. Financial worries, marital discord, unemployment, chronic illness, the death of a loved one and clinical depression are just a few challenges. The list is endless. And during this time of the year, each crisis is magnified. 

Unlike the fictional character in Frank Capra's movie, the biblical account of the Christmas story introduces us to a real angel. In Matthew 1:21 that messenger from God announces the arrival of one who can save people who are held captive in a sinful world. 

Speaking to Joseph in a dream the angel says "You are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins." 

Matthew goes on to explain that "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet…they will call him Immanuel-which means "God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23).

Isn't that awesome? Because Jesus was born we not only have the assurance that we can be delivered from our sins, we also have the promise that God is with us at all times. 

Perhaps you know someone who is barely hanging on. They need a deliverer of some kind to transform their living hell into a wonderful life. As you ponder the words of the refrain to the late Rich Mullins' song "My Deliverer," pray for that friend, colleague, neighbor or family member. Ask the Lord to open their eyes to the fact that Jesus is standing by them and will one day return for them.

My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by 
My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by 
He will never break His promise-He has written it upon the sky 
My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by

Scripture Reference: Matthew 1:21-23

Reflection #2 on 'My Deliverer' by Rich Mullins & Mitch McVicker

Joseph took his wife and her child and they went to Africa 
To escape the rage of a deadly king. 
There along the banks of the Nile, Jesus listened to the song 
That the captive children used to sing. 
They were singin' 
My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by 
My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by. 

Have you noticed the recent revival of interest in superheroes? Comic book crusaders are making a comeback in a big way. In addition to the current popular television series based on Superman, full-length movies have been released dramatizing the exploits of Spiderman, Batman, Daredevil, X-men and the Incredible Hulk. 

Our society's fascination with superheroes points to the fact that we somehow want to believe that deliverance from the fears that taunt us truly is possible. If only on an imaginary level, people want to visualize what it would be like to be released from the various realities that oppress them. It's as though our culture's longing for belief in the supernatural cannot be contained. 

Every Christmas our culture reconsiders a story that is far more familiar than the most popular comic book. It concerns the birth of a baby that grew up to be the deliverer of those oppressed by sin and its consequences. 

Ironically, when Joseph fled from Herod's murderous edict to Egypt with Mary and the baby Jesus, he allowed the Son of God to identify with those in need of deliverance. 

Years later, when a grown up Jesus announced His purpose in coming to our planet, the passage from the Old Testament left little room for doubt as to what He was about.

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" Luke 4:18-19.

That mission statement continues to capture the core values of the One who visited us two thousand years ago and has promised to come again. Those of us who await His coming would do well to pay attention to the concerns in society that pique His interest and become involved on His behalf.

Scripture Reference: Luke 4:18-19

Reflection #3 on 'My Deliverer' by Rich Mullins & Mitch Mcvicker

My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by 
My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by 
He will never break His promise-He has written it upon the sky 
My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by. 

On Sept 19, 1997 Christian music fans the world over acknowledged the truth of that proverb. Less than a month after Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died, Rich Mullins, the prolific and gifted Christian songwriter was killed in a car accident while en route to a concert site in Kansas. He was traveling with his good friend and fellow-songwriter, Mitch McVickers, who survived the crash although he had a lengthy recovery. 

Those who loved Rich and his music were shocked by his unexpected death. At forty-one, it seemed the Christian music icon had died too soon. But few would doubt that for one so young, Rich had attained an amazing maturity in his walk with God. With uncanny insight his lyrics conveyed an eternal perspective that challenged us to anticipate Christ's coming kingdom and not be overly influenced by the cultural norms around us. 

The last song Rich and his friend Mitch wrote together was "My Deliverer." It's a ballad that recounts Jesus' childhood. With appropriate poetic license, it visualizes the plight of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as exiles in Egypt. But it does more than that. 

In addition to looking back to Jesus' infancy, the lyrics look forward to the day when the Deliverer of God's people will return to earth. It's a song that adds color to the apostle Paul's black words on white parchment found in Romans eleven. "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins" (Romans 11:26-27 NIV)

My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by 
My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by 
I will never doubt His promise though I doubt my heart, I doubt my eyes 
My Deliverer is coming-my Deliverer is standing by

It is quite obvious that Rich was ready (and waiting) to be delivered from a world in which he saw himself as a temporary resident. And though he believed the Lord would come for him someday, in the meantime, he knew that Jesus was standing by him until it was time to move to heaven.

We, too, can have that same confidence. As we await Jesus' return as our deliverer, we can be assured that He is standing by us in life or death. It's a confidence and assurance that comes by following Rich Mullins' example and daily spending time in the Lord's presence.

Scripture Reference: Romans 11:26


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