Devotional – February 13, 2021


He is Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.  He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.    Job 9:9, 10 

John W. Peterson’s life reads like a novel.  He was born in Kansas, where his brothers, Bill and Bob, lived a wild and dangerous life of “boozing, gambling, fast driving, and sheriff-baiting.

Then one night Bill came home, took his mother in his arms, kissed her, and said, “Mother, I have found your Christ as my Savior.”  The change in him was immediate and dramatic.  Soon Bob, too, was saved along with other members of the family.  Then John, twelve, gave his heart to Christ as well.  The brothers became traveling evangelists, and John often joined them on their trips, singing at the meetings.

When World War II began, John joined the Air Force, and became a pilot, who repeatedly risked his life while transporting men and materials over the fabled “China Hump.”  In his spare time he studied the Bible and wrote gospel songs.  When the war ended, John enrolled in the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

“I sat in a classroom at Moody one day when the lecturer said something that started me thinking in a concentrated way about the grace and love of God. . . Soon I lost contact with the lecture, and my mind turned back to my childhood when I had seen the radical change in the lives of my brothers Bob and Bill through the power of the gospel.  I relived my own conversion—to me such a miraculous thing. . .

My thoughts raced on to the flights over the Himalayas, the spectacular power of God revealed in those electrical storms, the majesty of the mountains themselves, the incredible variety of the jungle, and the star-filled nights of dazzling beauty high in the air.

“As these scenes flashed through my memory, I began to focus on the element of the miraculous in all of God’s work, creation, and redemption.  The words of a song were forming in my mind, and before the class period was over the chorus was all thought out.  I hurried over to the music building, found a vacant studio, and started to write:


            It took a miracle to put the stars in place;

            It took a miracle to hang the world in space;

            But when he saved my soul,

            Cleansed and made me whole,

            It took a miracle of love and grace!”


I discovered this song a number of years ago and sang it for years as a solo.  Once I met Kurt and Dixie Swanson and heard Kurt play his trumpet, I asked if he would add an accompaniment with his horn along with the piano.  He kindly agreed, and I was never able to sing it as well without hearing the haunting brass sound.  Oh, how I wish I had a recording of Kurt’s soulful rendition of the piece as he played a solo between verses.  It lent such a depth both musically and spiritually to the performance.  You must simply take my word that the addition of Kurt’s trumpet elevated the song tremendously.

As I read about John W. Peterson’s family’s conversion I was reminded that many families have a patient and stalwart prayer warrior who prays for years for the same thing for their family members.  My mother was one of those.  I remember watching and listening as she prayed that  my father and brother would come to know the love, peace and grace of the Lord and that she might have the blessing of witnessing their acceptance.  As my mother died early at the age of 52, she never knew that both, in their own time, actually accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. 

Although I spent many hours singing with my father as he jammed with his musician friends and family, I was never fortunate enough to sing with him in church.  As I listened to Sandy Patty and her father on the link provided below, I was touched by the realization of what could have been, had my own father chosen a different path in life.  The joy both Sandy and her dad must have experienced as they joined their voices to make such amazing music had to have been indescribable.  My joy for them is great and my prayer for you today is that you are able to find joy as you listen. 


Sandy Patty & her Father:       


Eddie Arnold:

Grace and Peace to you!   Carolyn