Featured song: The Master’s Hand, from Carman’s 1982 album Some-O-Dat.

Everybody has their own story about what brought them to know Jesus in not just an intellectual way, but a personal way. Sometimes the journey has been a smooth transition into a relationship during childhood that just matures with time; sometimes it has been hard-fought struggle to seek out truth amidst the falsehoods and trials of life. 

I like what Keith Green said, as heard on the live introduction to his Song To My Parents on the 1983 compilation album I Only Want To See You There

“All I want to tell you is, you’re not going to find happiness in anything else. I tried. Oh, did I try! My own parents can tell you that. I travelled all over the United States, read lots of books on the occult and eastern religions, took lots of drugs… You’ve heard the testimonies before, I don’t need to tell you mine. But the part of every testimony I love is when they get to the bottom of their list. I put Jesus at the bottom of my list …”

It is such a constant theme in stories people tell about how they came to faith in Jesus. It could be an intellectual journey, like that taken by C.S. Lewis. He started with an attitude of Atheism; there is no God. As he continued to read and wrestle with the problem of what he saw in the world and what he understood from great authors of English literature of the past, he realized that there was no clear way to be certain that God did not exist. So he moved to a different level, that of the Agnostic, the person who admits that he does not know whether or not there is a God. Further time and reflection led him to the point of view called Theism: there is a God. He was not certain whether or not this God was interested in the affairs of men, but he had concluded that there was clear evidence that God exists. And from that point he came to believe that God as described in the Bible was the picture of God most consistent with what he could see in the world, and so finally moved himself to the realm of Christianity. 

For others, the path they take could be one of pain and loss, and finally finding themselves at the bottom pits of their own personal hell. And at that point they finally realize their desperate need for Someone to save them — and at the bottom of their list, they find Jesus. 

This song by Carman recounts what happens to someone who has either avoided the Church all his life, or has just never felt that Jesus had anything to offer him. And then one day, when he ducks into a service to “drop out of sight”, he finally has no choice but to sit still long enough to actually listen to the message given by the preacher. And those words pierce him to the heart, make him finally see his own blindness and stubborn pride, and God has His chance to break through and effect a change. 

I once heard someone tell me that finding Jesus was like being let out of a prison. I would ask you to consider again the Hand of the Master, who is offering you a release from your own prison, when you surrender control of your life to the One who really knows how life is to be played! 

I walked into the church that night
Thought that I’d drop out of sight
So I sat down
I laughed, in spite of all my blues
It’s really not the type of place I’m used
To hanging around

I looked ahead and saw the man
Watched him close, as he began to speak
That certain day
And it seem that something deep inside
Had seized my soul, and though I tried to shake it
It wouldn’t go away

It was as though the words he said
Would echo back inside my head –
I almost cried
I’d be a fool, so I supposed,
Then somehow, got myself composed,
And held it inside

I felt the blood rush through my wrist
The tighter that I squeezed my fist, determined
Not to let conviction start
But with all my wisdom left behind
I somehow saw that I was blind
And slowly, let His presence
Fill my heart

As everyone stood to their feet
I managed, somehow, to repeat the prayer
That they were prayin’
Then I dropped my head, and I dropped my eyes
As suddenly, I realized
Just what I was saying

Through trembling lips and streaming tears
I ended all those wasted years
Of dreams I’d built on sand
Unloading all my guilt and wrong
I somehow felt both weak and strong,
The night
I took the Master’s hand

As I look back, remembering,
I still recall how everything
Just seemed different than before
How every house and bird and tree
Was strangely beautiful to me
And people were even more

How could I have been so blind
To rush through life and never find this rock
On which I stand?
But when I whispered deep that Name
I knew I’d never be the same,
The night
I took the Master’s hand

But when I whispered deep Jesus’ Name
I knew I’d never be the same,
The night
I took the Master’s hand

Some-O-Dat, 1982, Carman  


One of Bob Ayala‘s songs was the subject of my last post, which brought to mind another of his songs that I enjoy. To see the full significance of what he writes in this song, it helps to know some of his history. Ayala lost his vision as a youth, but he did not let it him embitter him. Instead, he turned his energies to singing about Jesus in many different ways.

He was also apparently a fan of the works of C.S. Lewis. On his first album, Joy By Surprise, released in 1976, Ayala made his title song a variation of Lewis’ autobiography “Surprised By Joy“. In that book, Lewis described his journey from atheism to Christianity, in his life-long search for Joy. Both Lewis and Ayala find this Joy they were seeking to be fulfilled in none other than Jesus himself. Jesus was discovered to be the embodiment and expression of Joy.

These comparisons to Lewis’ works extend further with the artwork that he had placed on the cover of his Joy By Surprise album. As best as I can tell, there appears to have been one cover for the vinyl LP version of the album (which I do not own), and a different cover for the cassette version (which I do own).

(LP version)
(cassette cover) (LP cover)

In both of these views, it recreates the scene from Lewis’ The Last Battle, in which a door in a stable in Narnia is actually a doorway to the true Narnia, an extension of Aslan’s country. Like the characters who represent the Narnia that has remained true to Aslan, these album covers depict Bob Ayala himself walking through that door from our world to the next world, and meeting Aslan face to face. And Bob actually sees his Savior! The song lyrics reflect this: “Like scales, my illusions are falling from my eyes“. Enjoy this classic!

You know it’s so good to be alive
For the first time in my life
Good to know, to be sure who I am
And all of my illusions
Are falling from my eyes
Since the day I met Joy by surprise

In my search for the truth
All I ever found were lies
Must have turned every stone along the way
And following the path they made
It caught me by surprise
When I looked up into the Carpenter’s eyes

Like scales my illusions are falling from my eyes…

It’s so good to be alive
Now that I’ve been born again
Good to know, to be sure who I am
And all of the confusion
Is passing me by
Since the day Jesus came into my life

Since the day
Since the day
Since the day
Since the day I met Joy by surprise…



Further up and further in

While in the fifth grade, I discovered in my school library a series of books that would have a significant influence on my life. They were the stories of children taken out of this world, and dropped into another world. There, they had exciting adventures and had a very real encounter with Good and Evil, before their return to their normal lives. The books were the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, which started with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and ended with The Last Battle. They captivated my imagination with Lewis’ depiction of the lion, Aslan, and his repeated redemption of Narnia from attacks by evil. 

Especially influential to me were the events in the final chapters of The Last Battle, in which the Pevensie children and their friends, now grown older, find themselves back in a Narnia that is all made new, and is actually part of Aslan’s Country. There, they were told that they were now there to stay, that this Narnia would never see evil again, and that all of their lives to this point were just an introduction to the story that was yet ahead. This idea of what heaven might be like fascinated me, and made the whole concept a bit more real. 

A few years later, I came across the Space Trilogy that C.S. Lewis also wrote. In this series, Elwin Ransom from earth has adventures on Mars (Malacandra) and Venus (Perelandra), and learns the true nature of our solar system, and the fallen status of our own Earth (Thulcandra, the “silent planet”). The future restoration of Earth was discussed in the last chapters of Perelandra. Similar to what was mentioned at the end of the Narnia series, Lewis again stated that the whole of our history was just a mis-step at the start of a long journey that would be more wonderful than could be even imagined. 

Despite my young age, these glimpses of heaven motivated me to learn more about the real story of God in our world, and drove me to learn what the Bible said about it. And as my enjoyment of music expanded to include Jesus Music, I was always attentive for songs that talked about heaven.

Chris Rice has written serveral songs about heaven; he has a vision of what it might be like, and communicates it beautifully in his music. One that I had listened to before, but did not really hear all the lyrics until just recently, hearkens back to the Narnia stories I read in my childhood. The oddly named song, Nonny Nonny from his 2003 album Run The Earth, Watch The Sky, contains these words:

… My adolescent 70’s
Reads just like the Pevensies adventures
‘Cause every perfect now and then
I cought a glimpse of Aslan’s mane
And I longed for His treasure

Something in His mystery was drawing me
To love the Author of my own biography


Nonny Nonny Odle’ee
River washes over me
Up for air and carry me away
Nonny Nonny Odle’igh
Run the earth and watch the sky
Playing hard and waiting for the day
Nonny Nonny Odle’ay

All grown up and living fine
Biographies all intertwined with billions
And soon He turns the final page
We’ll look the Author in the face
Then the book really begins

‘Cause something tells me all these years of memories
Are only the first sentence of eternity …