This is the power

This mosaic is one of many in the Resurrection Chapel at Washington National Cathedral. Photographed April 2005

This mosaic is one of many in the Resurrection Chapel at Washington National Cathedral.
Photographed April 2005

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.  — Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Yesterday I wrote of singing to give myself courage and stamina as I drove alone to the hospital late on the night Jeff was first diagnosed and went into emergency surgery.  I sang two songs that night on the relatively short drive that I feared would seem endless when I started out.  Yesterday’s blog talked about the first song.  This song is the second.

Though it’s a fairly recent composition, many beautiful versions have already been recorded.  Here’s one that’s quite unique; I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  If you want to hear only the triumphant final verse quoted above, you can jump to 2:45 into the song.

When I first learned this song several years ago, I thought of Matt whenever we sang that verse.  The words “from life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny” brought to mind my memories of the tiny infant struggling to breathe in the neonatal intensive care unit, who went on to survive more than most of us can imagine.  As he undergoes his fifth and riskiest open heart surgery this week, I expect that I will be silently singing this song to myself more than once through the long hours of waiting.

Since September, when we sing this verse at church now I think also of that dark drive to the hospital, and of Jeff and what he has been through the past 20 months.  Though he and Matt express it differently, both of them continue to live as they always have, in quiet faith that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

For most Christians, Easter reminds us of what we believe every day: that the most important victory of all time has already been won.  Many of us will be singing about that today, finding in God’s promises the “peace that passes understanding.”  I honestly believe the peace on earth we all crave must first begin inside each one of us, not as a passive acquiescence, but as a rock-solid assurance that replaces fear with faith and love.  I wish that peace for everyone who reads these words.  “Hallelujah is our song.”

For a special Easter greeting, click here

Last year on Easter:

Our song


  1. Your faith shines through your words Julia. You are an amazing woman. I do include you all in my daily prayers. I feel humbled by your words on this Easter Sunday and pray that the Lord continues to give you and your family his grace’s and strength. Happy Easter.


    • Thank you Pat, I am so grateful for your prayers, kind words and presence here. I never dreamed when I began this blog 18 months ago that it would be the source of so much comfort, friendship, knowledge, encouragement and sheer FUN from so many people I’ve met here. Thanks for being among them!

  2. Dan Nelson

    Julia, I am always disappointed when an important post comes in later in the day, and I miss a serious prayer request. I suspect you made sure it got in early today, and I truly appreciate that. I will be praying for Matt’s procedure, for his recovery, and for the hands and the minds of his medical staff. I have my Chaplain shift at the hospital tomorrow night, and I know God will have me thinking about you and your family. Have a blessed Easter celebration and have the blessed assurance of Christ’s resurrection and ours throughout this coming week. Your friend in Christ, Dan of Summerfield.

    • Dan, thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a comment here. I really miss your words of wisdom at UR on the days when I am not able to get over there and read (which has been far too often lately). I so appreciate the steadfast prayers and encouragement from the folks who visit “the cyber chapel.” This morning in church I thought how providential it is, that Matt’s surgery happened to be scheduled during the week following Easter, a time of great comfort and assurance for all who believe. We appreciate your being with us in thought, hope and faith!

  3. Bobby

    I’m reading this with tears in my eyes as I watch the sunrise. It has been a beautiful sunrise in so many ways–the colors were spectacular, this day has so much meaning, and the music that goes with this day is so special. I have read all four resurrection passages, so short and so significant. Special Easter greetings to you, Jeff, and Matt. You are continually in my prayers. I will put you in our class prayers today. We all are so richly blessed.

    • Thanks so much Bobby. Once, years ago while I was preparing to teach a Sunday School class of young children, I sat and read through all four gospel accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection – I was astounded at how powerful an experience it is to read them all sequentially, as the story is told from four different viewpoints. It sort of lent a dimensional aspect to my re-creation of it in my mind. We so appreciate your thoughts and prayers! And it was WONDERFUL to be able to see you recently. Happy Easter!

  4. Loved that version. Have you heard this Hallelujah Easter version:

    • No Barb, I had not ever heard that one – it’s lovely! Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Beverley

    Julia, Thank you for declaring that the “victory has already been won”. What a wonderful Saviour and Lord! Jesus Christ lives and that is very Good News!
    Thank you for introducing me to the very talented David Wesley – He states of himself, “Self-producing artist creating multi-track magic in my basement to share the gospel and have a little fun on the side.” Oh, may we all have the joy of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Blessings to everyone who reads this:-)

    • You’re welcome Beverly, I’m so glad you enjoyed David Wesley’s music. Did you see the sweet video of him with his new baby boy? It’s always such a joy to discover talented artists who are using their gifts to make this world brighter. Thanks for being here today and sharing the joy with us!

      • Beverley

        Finally had a chance to view the video of baby, Theon. Very sweet and I was blessed to discover that they are fellow-Canadians. We are many miles and hours apart but it is always thrilling to see how the Lord is using others for His work:-)

        • I’m glad you got to see that cute video! I had forgotten about them being from Canada, but I should have known. You Canadians are an amazing gift to the world and especially to cyberspace! 😀

  6. tpeastin

    Julia…what an absolutely marvelous post…the picture, the quote, your words, and the song! I read your blog daily, but as you know, I am on a self-imposed “no comment” period until my one year of retirement date passes (I retired May 29, 2013)…but just like I did when you posted your “Hallelujah Chorus” flash mob post back in December, I have to comment!

    When I sat down to read Defeat Despair today, it was 9:58 a.m. EST and I said to myself, “you can read the post, but not yesterday’s comments (I always read them one day behind) because at 10:00 you will need to stop because my husband, 30 year old son, and I need to head out to church at 11:15 for the 11:45 service. Okay, at 10:09 I had already listened not only to the ingenious young man’s singing of “In Christ Alone” but had moved on to his rendition of “Amazing Grace!” It was like I was stuck in a wonderful, musical vortex…but I am extracting myself right now…and writing you this comment.

    I MUST go…thank you for opening up your life.

    “Jesus loves you, this I know…for the Bible tells me so…”

    God bless you…

    Love, Pat

    (respectfully submitted at 10:28 am EST.. LOL!)

    • Pat, I read this and smiled, thinking “a woman after my own heart” with the reading and writing while racing the clock. I really appreciate the time you take to send these comments our way; they do brighten my day! BTW I got stuck in that same “musical vortex” when I first discovered David Wesley online – not only did I listen to his other songs, but I think I listened to “In Christ Alone” at least four times that day! 😀 WOW, your one-year anniversary is getting close, it will be here before you know it! Congratulations in advance! Blessings to you and your family this Easter.

  7. Rene

    Happy Easter Julia! May you continue to run the race that is before you with the sure knowledge that GOD IS WITH YOU!

    • Thank you Rene! Thanks also for your very kind email – which I hope to sit down and answer soon. It meant a great deal to me. I hope that we both have smoother sailing ahead…but until then, we will both “run the race” with faith and strength. I appreciate your presence here!

  8. Sheila

    Julia, a wonderful Easter to you, my friend. I echo the many comments here. Our thoughts and prayers accompany you, Jeff, and precious Matt this week. I went back to see the post “The envelope, please” and enjoyed seeing you with Matt, as Jeff was videoing from behind the tree. Just what I needed! 🙂

    • Sheila, that makes me smile. I need to go back and watch that video again. This week has been precious to us. It’s always hard the week before Matt’s surgery, but it’s also a gift to be forced not to take each other for granted. We so appreciate your prayers and caring! It helps us stay strong. Happy Easter, and I hope you have a beautiful week ahead.

  9. Carolyn Miller

    Matt will be in our prayers this week, for a safe and fast recovery. You all have been through so much these past months, prayers for you also. I go Tuesday for my 3 month check up, praying for good report. Keep me up dated on Matt and Jeff. Love to all.

    • Thank you Carolyn, we keep you in our prayers as well. Please let us know how the check up goes – we love to hear good news! Thank you for being with us through all this. Love to you and Terry.

  10. Dorothy Walker

    What a wonderful rendition of “In Christ alone”. This, and “Finlandia” have special meaning for me as I was privileged to be one of the musicians who played these songs at two separate Thanksgiving Services for two very dear friends. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as Matt undergoes his heart operation. Singing these powerful words will give you strength.

    • Thank you Dorothy. Are those not two beautiful pieces of music? I am so grateful for the gifted composers and performers who fill our lives with such inspiration and encouragement. We need and deeply appreciate your prayers! Thank you for being here.

  11. Jenelle

    Happy Resurrection Day!! I love that song In Christ Alone for the lyrics. I have the Travis Cottrell version on my ipod and sing it like no one can hear me. Thank you for blessing us each day with a smile of inspiration. I ditto Rene. Keep running the race. Keep making a difference because you are. Jesus is risen. He is alive! Thank you for the beautiful e-card. It was lovely 🙂

    • Jenelle, you are so welcome! Thanks to you for your steadfast encouragement. I really appreciate your presence here and your fellowship. Hebrews 12:1!

  12. Debbie

    HAPPY EASTER! you encourage me every day to stay positive . I will be praying for you this week as Matt has his surgery. My mom is having minor surgery this week and I will think of you as I sit and wait, one of the hardest things for me to do but
    I will defeat despair by thinking of your written words and beautiful pictures.

    • Thank you Debbie! That waiting can be a trial to all of us, but especially to those who like to stay busy and productive. Sometimes I think the hours and hours of waiting have been the hardest part of the past 18 months for Jeff. I hope you have some reading, knitting, Sodoku or other pastimes to keep you distracted as you wait for your Mom. I’m glad you are able to be with her and I will pray all goes well for you both. We really need and appreciate your prayers for us this week – thanks for caring!

  13. Amy

    Saw Jeff tonight for a just a minute. It was nice. Give our love to Matt. We will be keeping you all in our prayers as always.

    • Jeff called and told me you came by tonight. I told Matt you had a gift waiting for him and it made him happy. 🙂 He knows Ms. Amy always spoils him. Thanks for being there for us always. We love you.

  14. I hope you had a pleasant Easter Julia. It must be such a worrying time for you. I will think of you and Matt this week. I hope his surgery goes well and he makes a speedy recovery.

    • Thank you Julia, we had a peaceful Easter and are all set for this week. We are so grateful for your support and good wishes. I’m hoping to take some virtual walks with you, Jez and Max during the next few weeks! It will be a nice change of scenery for me.

  15. MaryAnn

    Thank you for the lovely card. As I watch the flowers blooming beside the stream; my 1st reaction was to remember “planted by the water” is how we grow: The Living Water is Jesus!
    Praying for my Matt, Jeff & YOU!

    • Mary Ann, Matt says to tell you, “Thank you for thinking of you Ms. Mary Ann – I love you and I miss you.” That’s a direct quote from Matt but I second it! Thanks so much for your prayers, caring and friendship.

  16. Hello, I work for the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael in California. Our Jubilarians would like to use this photo of the mosaic in the Resurrection Chapel at Washington National Cathedral for the cover of their liturgy booklet and as a prayer card. Do you have a high resolution file of the photo you can send me? And how would I get permission to use it? Thank you.

    • Hi Katherine, thanks so much for your interest in this photo. I will send a copy of it as an attachment to the email address you left with your comment. Everything on this blog that is my own work (as the photo you mention is) is free to use under the Creative Commons 4.0 license, about which you can learn more by clicking on the copyright notice posted on the right sidebar of the blog. However, since this is a photograph of a mosaic that is an original work by another person, I am not certain whether I have the right to confer the use of a photo of it. For that, you will want to contact the National Cathedral at – I was unable to find any definitive information about copyright, though I know that photographs taken for federal projects are generally considered in the public domain. Since the cathedral is part of the federal government, there might be a similar provision for artwork commissioned for its buildings. Good luck with your project – if you are able to use the photgraph for a booklet or prayer card, I would love to have a copy.

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