Fanny Crosby was a prolific hymn writer of a past generation. During her lifetime, she wrote over 8000 songs, most of which have been forgotten. Although some have endured and continue to minister to the church of today: “To God Be the Glory,” “Blessed Assurance,” and “All the Way My Savior Leads Me.” From her earliest days, she wrote poems almost without number and was able to recite the first four books of the Old Testament and the first four books of the New Testament from memory. And what must be remembered is she did all this and much more, having been blinded at age six by the malpractice of a doctor treating a minor eye inflammation. She embraced that bitter providence without bitterness and believed that it helped her focus on the spiritual and allowed her to see God more clearly. By the grace of God, she triumphed over her handicap and used it for the magnification of Jesus Christ. Her motto in life was: “Trust God and take heart.”
Hers is a life worth investigating, and if you do, you will find that she died at 95, having spent a lifetime helping people see God through her songs, writings, and ministry in the slums and missions of New York City. Upon passing, her remaining family erected a simple tombstone that read: “Aunt Fanny. She has done what she could.”
I love that description of Fanny Crosby’s life, “She has done what she could.” Despite her disabilities, she did what she could. Despite her disabilities, she focused on her abilities; she did what she could. Despite her disabilities, she did not envy others’ abilities; she did what she could. Doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, is all God asks of any one of us, and Fanny Crosby modeled that perspective.
The words “She has done what she could” originally fell from the lips of the Lord Jesus in describing the kind, generous and prophetic act of Mary of Bethany in anointing his body for burial prior to His crucifixion (Mark 14:3-9, esp. 6, 8). While others saw this costly act as blatant waste, Jesus saw it as fragrant worship and memorialized it in the gospel record. In a context of hatred for Jesus, with the plotting of Jewish leaders and the coming betrayal of Judas, this woman extends devotion to our Savior. As one writer put it, “She opened up a window of love in a wall of hatred.” This woman took what she had and did what she could as the moment allowed. I am sure she wished to do more, but she did not allow what she wanted to do to get in the way of what she could do. She did what she could with what she had, where she was, and Christ commended her for it.
Let’s do what we can for Christ, and let’s do it now. Don’t wait till you are a better Christian, do what you can now. Don’t wait until you can give Him more, give what you have now. Don’t desire to be someone else; serve the Lord as you only can now. The God who made us simply expects us to be us and do all that we can with all He has given. Don’t let your faith and discipleship slip into the realm of the ideal. Keep doing what you can, with what you have, when you can, and God will bless it.
Fanny Crosby and Mary of Bethany did what they could, so let’s all do the possible and watch God do the impossible.