Songs of the Heart: Part 1
(Reflections on Favorite Hymns, Praise Songs and Anthems)
How wonderful to hold the hand of God! To rest in His incomparable knowledge of the path ahead; to understand that His ways are beyond ours and to trust in that truth!
Have you ever walked with a young child, holding their hand, and found that they resist or attempt to pull away? Sometimes you’re “dragging” them along to keep them moving ahead instead of looking back. Other times, they want to run ahead of you and it’s all you can do to hold them back! Often they aren’t looking where they’re going and you have to “pull up” a bit on their hand to keep them from falling or stumbling. I believe that must be God’s perspective as he tries to lead us! We’re often trying to “look back” at something or someone He’s guiding us away from. And then other times we run ahead of Him only to find ourselves struggling against His will and wisdom.
One of the most problematic situations for us is reconciling God’s leading with the difficult circumstances we face. “How can God allow us to go through this?!” we ask. Feeling alone, abandoned and confused, we reach out through the darkness for some sign that His hand is still clasping ours – some signal that God is anywhere around, much less actually leading us! I heard Iverna Tompkins say one time: “God leads us down the easiest path we’ll let him!” That’s not saying that every difficulty we face is brought on by our own willful or stubborn nature, but there are times when we insist on having our own way (following our own path) and God says “have at it!” Hard lessons learned, we eventually come back and, tucking our hand safely within His, are not quite so prone to wandering again.
The 2nd verse of this timeless hymn includes these gripping words:
“Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom . . .
O’er troubled waters . . . still ‘tis His hand that leadeth me.”
Sometimes, maybe most times, we don’t have an answer to the “whys” of life. Understanding escapes us – “why these troubled waters, Lord?”, we ask. Or, more to the point, “why me, Lord? What am I doing in these depths!?” One Christian professor with whom I taught said that in those times, she just mentally filed her unanswered question in an imaginary large multi-compartment mailbox and left it there. Sometimes, she found that she could return after several months or years and take the question out of the box, because she had received some measure of understanding with the passing of time. Others still remained in their boxes, perhaps never to be answered in this life; she would trust that our Lord knew what he was doing and if she had a chance, she’d ask Him about it when she finally met Him in heaven!
Scripture for Meditation: Psalm 37:23-24
23 The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
”Lord, please never let go of my hand; and when I tend to pull ahead or hold back, keep me even closer to Your side. May my eyes always be on what You want me to see and my feet on the path You order for me.
As an aid to your meditation on this great hymn, I’ve attached the track from The NCC’s album Holy, Holy, Holy →