Thursday, March 10, 2005

An old hymn

I found an old hymn in The Baptist Hymnal (1991) whose text resonated with me. Since it's in the public domain, I think it's OK for me to post the lyrics here.

Hymn 270: No, Not Despairingly

No, not despairingly
Come I to Thee,
No, not distrustingly
Bend I the knee:
Sin hath gone over me
Yet this is still my plea:
Jesus hath died.

Ah! mine iniquity
Crimson hath been,
Infinite, infinite
Sin upon sin:
Sin of not loving Thee
Sin of not trusting Thee,
Infinite sin.

Lord, I confess to Thee
Sadly my sin;
All I am tell I Thee,
All I have been:
Purge Thou my sin away,
Wash Thou my soul this day:
Lord, make me clean.

Faithful and just art Thou,
Forgiving all;
Loving and kind art Thou
When poor ones call:
Lord, let the cleansing blood,
Blood of the Lamb of God,
Pass o'er my soul.

Then all is peace and light
This soul within;
Thus shall I walk with Thee,
The loved Unseen;
Leaning on Thee, my God,
Guided along the road,
Nothing between.

Words: Horatius Bonar

"Not distrustingly bend I the knee"---wow, that we might bend the knee yet be distrusting. Let that not be! Oh, break my heart...not shattered into pieces...but break the stiff-necked pride...that I bend the knee...and may I know that You are not hateful to me but are disciplining me in love, as the perfect father would.

"let the cleansing blood...pass o'er my soul"---spiritual Tide with color-safe bleach! When I read "cleansing," I often think of a scrub brush rubbing painfully into my skin. But it isn't that. No! Remember the painting on the lintels of the Hebrews' doors the lamb's blood? The pain was carried by the lamb. It might have pained the person slaughtering the lamb to kill a dear animal, but we don't know. We do know that our Savior suffered agony, and those watching Him suffer pain and death must have suffered much emotional pain...perhaps to the point of some physical pain. But look! The cleansing blood does not scrub into our skin, and the hurt of change occurs when we do not cooperate with God. (Yes, life events can be painful, but that's not the same as spiritual cleansing.) Hmm...something to ponder further.

My favorite part: "Leaning on Thee, guided along the road, nothing between." I have this image of having my arm in the crook of His arm, like lovers do, and leaning on His shoulder and on His chest. No tension between us. No distrust. No coldness. No distance. Unblocked communication. It's a beautiful thing.

Mystery of Presence

How You affect us, Father!
How You change us with just one glance
filled with pleasure in Your children!

You fill Your people with joy
and they are glad.
You are bright with holy light.
Those who have learned to acclaim You,
who walk in the light of Your presence, O LORD,
are blessed
because their hearts are at rest,
loving with actions and in truth,
creating more joy among the family of God
and increasing the gladness when in Your presence.

Teach us this truth, Father.
May we taste and see that You are good.

(adapted from Psalm 16:11; 18:12; 21:6; 89:15; 1 John 3:19; and 1 Thessalonians 3:9)

Unfailing Love

"What a [person] desires is unfailing love."
"Many a [person] claims to have unfailing love,
but a faithful [person] who can find?"


How can You satisfy
when I have been Gomer,
running to other lovers
whose cries seemed louder
than Yours?


O this word
that sums up
love that smiles on us,
comforts us,
causes us to rejoice
because it lights our way,
redeems us not partially
but fully—
love that is
priceless beyond measure,
never absent,
that governs God's mercy,
surrounds us like a city's walls,
keeps us from being shaken.
When we trust in Him,
in His unfailing love,
we have His full attention,
and He delights in us.
Because of Him,
who is unfailing, covenant love,
we are soothed, cherished,
loved deeply by the perfect Father
who holds us tightly
yet tenderly.

ej 2003; revised 2005