Today’s post is a guest review of a book quickly becoming beloved by many of my dearest friends, Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart. Rev. Gaven Mize, who you know as the Lutheran children’s author of My little ABC Liturgy Book and God Loves Me Such: That He Would Give, has taken time to weigh in and review Kloria’s latest as an answer when death questions come up with your child.
Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart: A Guest Review
By Rev. Fr. Gaven M. Mize
What book would you read to your child when the “death” questions come up? I’ll give you one hint: It’s this one.
As a pastor, there are two hymns that I sing when death is emanate and when we lay them to rest in the Lord. They act as bookends. I cannot tell you the number of times I have sung or whispered, “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart” to the dying. Then, before the funeral service I sing, “Now Rest beneath Night’s Shadow.”
“Lord, Thee I Love” comforts the dying, as well as the others affected. Then, “Now Rest” comforts the sorrowed.
Both hymns have their place and the Lutheran hymn writers, Martin Schalling and Paul Gerhardt, should need no introduction after giving such faithful gifts to the church. Yet Kelly Schumacher should now rightfully take a bow for her work in bringing Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart to life for children.
This illustrated work is a treasure to behold in the face of death. If we are honest with ourselves, we can see that we really haven’t had many words to teach our children about life and death. With this book we have no more excuses for poor catechesis. We have understandable, powerful words with gentle but honest imagery for when we teach our children about death.
In this review, I’ll not ruin the ended—or the beginning for that matter. I’ll just state what has become obvious: There isn’t a better children’s book than this on the topics of death, why bad things happen to children/people, the rest from labors, the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting.
I’ll not give too much away. Still, there are a few highlights that HAVE to be told. The beautifully painted story tells the simple tale of a little girl who is presumable diagnosed with cancer. The family stands by this beautiful little girl, however, if you read the book too quickly you will miss a life of battle and prayer.
On one page the precious little girl is in the hospital with the doctor. Underneath the painting are the words, “And should my heart for sorrow break, my trust in Thee can nothing shake. Thou art the portion I have sought; Thy precious blood my soul has bought.” The coolest thing of all on the two pages might be missed if you overlook the little one praying for her life behind the crucifix of Christ. He wants her to live. This image is nothing more than an elapsed time where she struggles with Christ by her side. It is amazingly beautiful.
This book is the answer to prayers. As a pastor, I have already been able to show this book to some of my flock. One such member commented, “This lovely book . . . I think this book has beautiful illustrations along with the sure promise of eternal life. The beautiful words of the hymn, Lord, thee I love with all my heart, brings comfort and understanding of sickness, death, and the resurrection of the dead. I believe my family would have been blessed with this book at my son’s death. Especially his children.”
Once you have read this book take a moment. In that moment read or sing, “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow.” Bookends. Comfort for the dying and comfort of the family. And, just as in dying situations and postmortem, this book rings true. And it’s all about Jesus.
I highly recommend it.
Thank you, Rev. Mize, for sharing this review. His children’s books are mentioned in the introduction, but you can also go here and here to see what he has written for adults.