“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God...“(
When Johnny Cash finally decided to break his amphetamine addiction, it was an intense and extreme time for him. Cash would speak of it as being like “forty days in the wilderness,” but his actual detox span was closer to ten days. Undoubtedly it seemed like forty. Every day was an ordeal as his body reacted to the shock of going without the chemical stimulants that had altered his nervous system for years. His doctor had seen patients suffer from seizures and die, and he worried that the same could happen to Cash, who often shook, spasmed, cramped up, and broke out in cold sweats.
Nights were the worst. When he was finally too exhausted not to sleep, the same nightmare came over and over: A glass ball was in Cash’s stomach and steadily expanded until it was so big he floated off his bed through the roof of his house. Then the ball exploded into a million minute slivers of glass that penetrated his body and entered his bloodstream. Cash felt the shards cutting and tearing through his heart, his limbs, his face and brain. The pain was so excruciating it woke him up. Then he’d fight his way back to sleep and have the same awful dream again.
But he persevered, leaning hard on God, June Carter, and the doctor, and made so much progress it was decided Cash would be able to keep a promise made months before to perform at a concert.
Johnny took the stage that night with more butterflies than he’d ever felt before. He was tentative at first, but gained confidence as the show went on and began to feel so good he even laughed, joked, and bantered between numbers. He performed for a whole hour—and, as he felt the presence of God with him, closed the show with “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”
It was a powerful and befitting song to end his set with. The song describes what it would have been like to stand at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. Then it transitions to the empty tomb, asking the question, “Were you there?” The chorus is, “Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble, tremble, tremble.”
Cash had done more than his share of trembling of late, most if from the suffering he endured as he withdrew from drugs. But it was a different kind of trembling the author of the song describes—trembling sparked by awe of what Jesus did for humanity.
1. Thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God . . . (Isaiah 43:1–3 NKJV)
Have you felt the Lord’s presence in times of great anguish or hardship?
2. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:25–27 NKJV)
God is able to cleanse and renew all the filthiness within us. What area of your life do you need to turn over to the Lord for cleansing?
3. Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
4. So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. (Mark 16:1–8 NKJV)
Can you think of a time you physically trembled with fear, awe, or wonder? If so, what caused it?
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