O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works Thy hand hath made; I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed. When Christ shall come, with shouts of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart! Then I shall bow in humble adoration, and there proclaim, “My God how great Thou art!”. Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee, “how great Thou art! How great Thou art!” Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee, “how great Thou art! How great Thou art!”
These are lyrics that have no doubt been loved by millions since it was written in 1885 by a Swede named Carl Boberg. For me, however, when I think of this song I always think of Lonny Merriott. Lonny was a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Muleshoe Texas where my dad has pastored for the past 20+ years. Lonny was an old country farmer whose dad actually started the church. To make a long story short, Lonny got saved under my dad’s ministry and he really did become a new man. Like clockwork, Lonny was faithfully at all services, he was the first one to arrive, and he would wear his coveralls (his nice ones).
But the most indelible memory I have of Lonny was when he would sing. Lonny had an incredible baritone voice that would simply resonate through our building as he would inevitably sing, “How Great Thou Art”. If he ever sang a different song I simply don’t remember- but I didn’t mind. Lonny was not anything anyone would consider a modern man in touch with his emotions- he was hardened after decades of hard work. He wasn’t a rude man by any means, but not one you would ever expect to express his feelings. But when he would sing that song- almost every time- that great baritone voice would crack with emotion. As Lonny would think about the great God that saved his soul it would bring that old farmer to nearly weep in front of a whole congregation.
The Psalms are full of references to God’s greatness. Just to give a few:
Psalm 31:19- “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!”
Psalm 47:2- “For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.”
Psalm 71:19- “Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!”
Psalm 86:10- “For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.”
Psalm 119:156- “Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD”
Our God certainly is great and worthy to be praised. It was only a great God who could crush the pride of Lonny (the son of the founding pastor) to cause him to come to the current pastor (a man much younger than him) to admit he was living a lie and ask him to take him through the plan of salvation.
It is only a great God who could have the wisdom to create this plan of salvation and the power to carry it out. It is this same great God, with His great mercy, His great grace, and His, “great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7) Lonny loved this great God and this great God deserves and is worthy of our love and adoration resulting in our faithfulness and obedience.
As the years went on, Lonny’s voice begin to diminish. That once strong baritone was weaker, and he struggled with minimal range. However, from time to time, Lonny would still get up and sing about his great God; and even though his voice was cracking from age, it was still obvious when it began to crack because of emotion. A few years ago, I had the privilege of being one of six men who would carry Lonny’s casket and place it on the pedestal above his freshly dug grave. His time on earth had ended but his eternity had just begun; and what gives me great joy when I think about Lonny Merriott is to picture him now bowing in humble adoration and proclaiming, “My God How Great Thou Art”!