Charles Carroll Luther penned a beautiful hymn in 1877. I first heard the hymn while in high school and the words and tune have never left my heart. Luther had heard the story of a young man who was about to die. The young man had only been a Christian for a short while and was very sad because he had only served the Lord a short time. The young man said, "I am not afraid to die; Jesus saves me now. But must I go empty handed?". Luther then penned the words to this beautiful hymn.
The tune is also very beautiful. Charles Luther handed his lyrics to George C. Stebbins who did a wonderful job conveying the heart's cry of this lovely hymn. "Must I Go, And Empty Handed?"
“Must I go, and empty handed,”
Thus my dear Redeemer meet?
Not one day of service give Him,
Lay no trophy at His feet?
“Must I go, and empty handed?”
Must I meet my Savior so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him,
Must I empty handed go?
Not at death I shrink or falter,
For my Savior saves me now;
But to meet Him empty handed,
Thought of that now clouds my brow.
O the years in sinning wasted,
Could I but recall them now,
I would give them to my Savior,
To His will I’d gladly bow.
O ye saints, arouse, be earnest,
Up and work while yet ’tis day;
Ere the night of death o’ertake thee,
Strive for souls while still you may.
I worry that in our effort to save some of our traditions, we may very well meet the Savior with "not one soul with which to greet Him". Oh that God would give us wisdom to know what to preserve as necessary, and what to discard as distracting. The message of Jesus Christ and His salvation must never be second to anything. I will not be satisfied to one day meet the master having merely preserved what He gave me to work with. I want to be like the "good and faithful servant" who took what the Master gave him, invested wisely, and had a great return.