Sunshine in my Soul – Carolyn Wood’s Devotional for June 19, 2021
But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.Proverbs 4:18
Edmunds Rhoad, account executive for an information systems company, has spent many hours researching his family tree. In the process, he discovered the diary that his great grandmother, Zeruiah Edmunds, started keeping at age nineteen, and it reveals a passionate love for Christ.
Zeruiah married James S. Hewitt, a young sailor who also kept a journal that tells of harrowing storms, shipwrecks, near escapes – and an earnest faith. One entry for example, tells of a voyage to China in which he was surrounded by “a rough irreligious body of men who paid no attention or any duty to God on the Sabbath or on any other day. Oaths, card-playing, etc. marked their conduct when at leisure.” James, deeply saddened, would slip off to quiet spots to read his Bible and pray.
It was into this Christian home that a daughter was born in 1851, in a house on Christian Street in Philadelphia. Little Eliza grew up in the nurture of the Lord. She was a teenager during the Civil War, but she managed to concentrate on school well enough to graduate valedictorian of her class. She displayed an unusual love for children, and after further study she became a schoolteacher.
In 1887, while teaching at the Northern Home for Friendless Children, Eliza, 35, was struck by an unruly student. He slammed his slate across her, severely injuring her back. The doctor placed her in a heavy cast for six months and Eliza was virtually immobile, perhaps wondering if she would ever walk again. When the cast was removed in early 1887, the doctor told her to take a short walk in nearby Fairmont Park. It was a warm spring day, and she was overcome with joy. Returning home, she picked up her pen and immediately wrote the hymn:
More glorious and bright,
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.
Her injuries were severe enough to preclude school teaching, so she devoted herself to Bible study and hymn-writing. Eliza lived for many more years and wrote scores of hymns, including “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place,” “When We All Get To Heaven”, and “Will There Be Any Stars in my Crown?”
Eliza died in 1920, and her grave at Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia, reads simply:
Eliza Edmunds Hewitt, Hymnwriter, author of “Sunshine in my Soul.”
So often we have learned during this journey into our favorite hymns of the tragedies which have befallen the authors of them. I was particularly struck by Eliza’s story in that it was obvious that she found peace in her troubled life through serving God.
Our God is a God who gives and gives and gives. When Jesus died for us on the cross, He held back nothing; He poured out his life like a drink offering. Because giving is inherent in His nature, He searches for people who are able to receive fully. To increase our intimacy with Him, the two traits we need the most are receptivity and attentiveness. Receptivity is opening up our innermost beings to be filled with His abundant riches. Attentiveness is directing our gaze to Him, searching for Him in all our moments. It is possible to stay your mind on Me, as the prophet Isaiah wrote. Through such attentiveness we receive a glorious gift: His perfect Peace.
Grace, Peace and Joy to you as you listen!