Archive for August, 2013

Sunday’s closing hymn was an old favorite of mine – Trust and Obey. (And, yes, 30-something young ladies who are into the arts and greatly enjoy or even prefer contemporary worship music and services can still have favorite hymns. Even several of them!)

I suppose it is a favorite because of the chorus and the oft repeated “trust and obey” phrase which comes to my mind often (complete with melody) as I read scriptures or hear sermons or have deep conversations about walking with God.

And perhaps I’ve never really paid much attention to the verses. But Sunday verse two caught my attention.

Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a doubt or a fear? Not a sigh or a tear?

The words suddenly seemed bitter in my mouth.

And I’m really not surprised they did. For though Sunday morning found my health and energy in a much better place than earlier in the week (when I had missed some work due to illness), I was still reeling from the news that a couple of friends had lost their unborn child (the third loss of that kind within my friend-family this summer) and the death of the husband and father of a mother and daughter with whom I’m friends and the powerfully resurfaced doubts and fears and frustrations of a very dear friend who is battling some hideous darkness and has been for some time.

Not a doubt or a fear? Not a sigh or a tear?

You’ve got to be kidding me!

Conversations with the latter mentioned friend and God also played into this. For I had been thinking about how I do not want to be completely stoic, where nothing touches me at all. After all, emotions are not evil and it is okay (and even healthy) to fully experience emotions. Often, as my friend was counseled by mentors, we need to embrace the [hurt, pain, fear, loss] before we can release it to God.

So verse 2 struck a chord. A very much discordant one.

The Christian life doesn’t mean we won’t ever have doubts or fears or sighs or tears! And pretending we don’t have them does not do a bit of good! Why would that even be in a hymn?!?!

But then I saw the word.


Abide: To remain. To dwell.

The verse isn’t saying that we will never experience hurts or fears or pain, but that as we trust and obey Jesus those things will not remain forever. They do not have to abide or dwell or control! Ah, yes!

Now I can sing:

Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey!

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But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.

This morning’s lectio verse had me reflecting on God as Father and God as potter and Israel (and us and me) as clay. And there is a sense of belonging to God in there and there is a sense of being in God’s hands. And not having to be in control. Release.

So as I turned from meditation to prayer, a specific prayer came to mind and it was my deep desire to pray it. So I pulled out my Celtic Daily Prayers book and looked up “The Methodist Covenant Prayer” (also known as Wesley’s Covenant Prayer) in the daily meditations section.

I am no longer my own, but Thine.
Put me to what Thou wilt,
rank me with whom Thou wilt;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering;
Let me be employed by Thee
or laid aside for Thee;
Let me be exalted for Thee,
or brought low for Thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things,
let me have nothing;
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am Thine.
So be it.
And the covenant
which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

And I realize this is a hard prayer. A dangerous prayer.

And it struck me that I don’t tremble as I say it.

Is it because I trust that much?

Or is it because I don’t really think God would actually take away “all things” that I’m saying I yield to His pleasure and disposal?

I looked around my room. Books. Tea things. Photos. Technology. Even that little retro purse that holds the umbrella.

Oh, surely He wouldn’t take all that away! I can say that He can have it because He’ll never take it.

After all, this stuff is used to bless others!

It is used to bring smiles and encouragement and to teach and edify and uplift others!

But then was brought to mind the bronze serpent.

It, too, was used to bless others. In fact, it was used for their healing. Their salvation, if you will. For when the children of Israel had complained in the desert and God sent snakes as a punishment and the people cried out and repented, He instructed Moses to have constructed this bronze serpent so that the people who were bit could look upon it and be healed.

It was a good thing!

But centuries later, Hezekiah destroyed it.

He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. (2 Kings 18:4)

The bronze serpent had been a great blessing. But it had “outlived” its purpose (so to speak) and though it could have remained as a reminder of God’s great work, it had instead become an idol.

Things that are blessings, as everything else it seems, have their time.

Which makes me tremble a slight bit more as I pray Wesley’s prayer. And rightly so.

Yet I trust God. I must. I have every reason to do so. For He is the potter and my faithful Father.

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