Jesus on the Subway

How a complete stranger on a subway platform becomes a friend in Jesus, making music out of nowhere.

Posted in , Jul 15, 2015

A stranger on a subway platform joins in making music for Jesus.

I’d been thinking for a couple of days about what it means to pray with Jesus and pray to Jesus. If you think about it, we do both. We pray to Jesus, but Jesus also prays with us as we pray. 

The old hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” puts it this way: “Can we find a friend so faithful/Who will all our sorrows share?/Jesus knows our every weakness,/Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

Jesus is that best friend with whom we can share whatever is on our mind. After all, he knows our every weakness, but he is also God’s Son answering and hearing our prayers. 

Both he and God make their home in us through prayer. “Whoever loves me will keep my word,” Jesus says, “and we’ll come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). 

I was thinking of all this as I was getting ready to sing that very hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in a project I’ve been carrying out recently, 60SongsIn60Days, singing a song a day and posting it online. 

I printed out the words and practiced them to myself, sitting at my desk, going out to get lunch, running an errand, all the while thinking of the words “…what a privilege to carry/Everything to God in prayer!”

Even when a song is familiar, it takes me a while to get the lyrics in my head so I can sing them without looking at a piece of paper.

In the afternoon I went down to the subway platform, the J and Z trains, where the acoustics are nice, and waited for the trains to go by so it would get quiet.

Then I started singing into my phone. I try not to pay too much attention to people walking by. Just hope they don’t make too much noise that will be picked up on my cell phone. (These are all “song selfies.”)

Halfway through the hymn, I found myself scrambling in my head for a lyric. Then someone started whistling on the platform. That noise is going to ruin the song, I thought. 

But no. Whoever was whistling was whistling the hymn right along with me, right on key, guiding me, harmonizing, making music with me.

I finished up and called out, “Who was whistling?” I looked around. A guy in a yellowish shirt at the end of the platform waved his hand. “You were great,” I said. “Thank you.”

What a friend we have in Jesus? He sends these people in our lives, other friends, dear ones, family members, loved ones, who stick with us, guide us, help us, sustain us.

And sometimes they are complete strangers, appearing out of nowhere, making God’s music with us.

Here, if you watch closely, you can see the man in the yellowish shirt walk by me, and then on the second verse you can hear him whistle. Sweet. 

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