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Tell Me…

November 9, 2013


I ran across this really delightful piece of poetry which appears as a hymn in some older hymnbooks. It’s by the great hymn writer Thomas Hastings – think “Rock of Ages.”  [You can double click on the graphic to enlarge it.]

It really speaks to me of God’s grace in a week in which I have:

  • been privileged to officiate at the private funeral of a committed believer;
  • heard from a good friend who is leaving the Church to seek a true and lasting fellowship without the confines of “Judeo-churchianity;” and
  • experienced, yet again, the power of hope in deliverance from a culture that is increasingly angry, duplicitous and decadent.

Truth be told there is a longing within me that, likely, will never be content this side of glory. There is no sense of “settling down” of “enjoying life while I have my health” of seeking a “quality of life.”

I wander, in mind and in spirit, looking for those who, in the words of Paul to the Philippians:

“…want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead… (to) press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of (us)…”

Do you know that longing, that stirring of your soul, that beckoning, that daring you to throw it all in, to take the ultimate challenge, to sell everything you have, give it to the poor in order to follow Him? In other words to turn your back on a world that seems increasingly hostile to sacrifice, to service, to wildly extravagant grace and just to BE; to be in Christ, to be with the broken and the hurting, to be one of those who shares the story and witnesses the unfolding of the Kingdom?

What holds us back?

Faith, or rather a lack thereof. We reason that that we have a certain responsibility, that God would not have us act irrationally. Really? Jesus is our model of rationality? No. Jesus is our model of faith which at its core cannot be seen as rational according to human reason, but looking to the One who has saved us, it becomes not just rational (in the eyes of faith) and not just commendable, but downright compelling.

Charles Wesley, another great hymn writer, penned this hymn that seems to have lost its way amongst the mainline/sideline denominations. It is most often these days sung as African American Gospel and perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from those who, even in slavery, could sing such words.

Father, I stretch my hands to Thee,
No other help I know;
If Thou withdraw Thyself from me,
Ah! whither shall I go?

What did Thine only Son endure,
Before I drew my breath!
What pain, what labor, to secure
My soul from endless death!

Surely Thou canst not let me die;
O speak, and I shall live;
And here I will unwearied lie,
Till Thou Thy Spirit give.

Author of faith! to Thee I lift
My weary, longing eyes:
O let me now receive that gift!
My soul without it dies.

Can we honestly say that without that gift of faith our souls die?

They do.

But do we recognize it? Or are we already in what my children jokingly refer to as the Zombie Apocalypse where the dead wander freely, devouring the living???

How badly do we want a movement of God, a costly, life changing, sacrificial movement of the Spirit to thrust us into the unknown, the unsecure, the unrational life of faith in God’s provision?

May the Lord bless us with a renewed vision for service, for sacrifice, for a chance to die figuratively to ourselves or perhaps even literally, for the sake of the Kingdom.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob Rice permalink
    November 9, 2013 4:41 pm

    Thanks Glen for blog post and video. Hope you are well. We return to Congo In January.

    • November 9, 2013 5:23 pm

      We continue to hold you and Kristi in prayer for matters discussed… – Glen

  2. Rachel permalink
    November 10, 2013 12:21 am

    Thanks for your thoughts. You ask, “How badly do we want a movement of God, a costly, life changing, sacrificial movement of the Spirit to thrust us into the unknown, the unsecure, the unrational life of faith in God’s provision?” I believe most Christians, most people really do not want to change – most Christians don’t want to pay any cost. It is one of the amazing things of God’s love – it costs us nothing, and He expects us to pay nothing. But when we are fully on board, or at least more on than off, then we realize that to fully participate in God’s love we need to pay a cost.
    An interesting conversation with a member of Redeemer Pres in NYC (Tim Keller’s church). That church is bringing intellectuals to Christ in record numbers. But, according to my informant, most of them are hard pressed to leave the kushy life they’ve gained by living in NYC so they invent something to do and label it “God’s Call”. She referred to one person who has written a book about how God called her to writing, though she hasn’t written anything important up to now.
    No, most of us are really not interested in change, or paying back any tiny part of what we “owe” God for his unfettered, and all-encompassing, amazing love for us. Personally, sometimes I would love to live in that empty bubble … until I think about the cost. “If thou withdraw thyself from me, O whither shall I go?” O:r if I withdraw myself from You, O whither shall I go?

    • November 10, 2013 9:36 am

      Amen to that Rachel. We want a movement of God to approve what we already enjoy, which is really nothing more than an acceptance of who we are, where we are, a baptism of our unrighteousness to be sure. A Savior without a cross… Service without sacrifice… no penury, no payment, no persecution…

      “If thou withdraw thyself from me, O whither shall I go?” Or if I withdraw myself from You, O whither shall I go?”

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