I was reading in a book by Watchman Nee on the topic of numbering our days and the story at the end touched me so deeply that I looked up the hymn and want to share it with you all. The tune is obviously classic rather than contemporary, and the the depth of the lyrics and the sentiments conveyed is incredible. Please read the short story below and the lyrics of the song. I hope these words leave an impression on you as they have on me.
Once there was a young man who fell into sin and was dying of tuberculosis. An elderly servant of God preached the gospel to him, telling him how the Lord Jesus had borne all his sins, and urging him to repent, confess his sins and receive the Lord Jesus to be his Savior. At first this youth felt quite reluctant, being obsessed with the thought of how ever could the Lord forgive such a sinner as he. Yet finally he did accept the Lord and was saved. He felt so happy and peaceful. After a few days the elderly servant of God revisited him, finding his face full of grief and pain. So he asked the young believer: “Why are you so sad? Do not let Satan deceive you!” He answered: “I know my sins have been forgiven.” “Then why are you so sad?” Forlornly he answered: “My days on earth are quite finished. What can I bring to the Lord when I shall stand before Him? My hands are empty. Must I go and see the Lord empty-handed?” Such was the reason for his grief. In answer, the elderly man comforted him by saying: “Brother, do not be discouraged. I will use your word to write a song. And whoever is constrained by this song to go abroad to preach the gospel and win souls, you shall have the reward.” Now this was the song that Charles C. Luther wrote which has since become famous: “Must I go and empty-handed? Must I meet my Savior so?” Many have been aroused by this song and have fervently served the Lord. Although this young man had lost many of his days, he still retained a little heart desire for the Lord at his dying, and the Lord fulfilled it.
May we all remember our days! May our lost days be restored: May each day be equal to a thousand days. And may we step by step walk in the light of God’s will!
–Watchman Nee, Practical Issues of This Life, pp. 89-90
“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 nor 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.