Come

Continuing my reading/studying of hymns….I discovered that more hymns start with the word ‘Come’ than any other word. There are 23 hymns which begin with ‘Come’, and hymns starting with the word ‘God’ are next at 15. I don’t necessarily believe there’s a lot of significance to the first word of a hymn, the people on the church music committee who made the hymn selections had lots of factors they were considering, and I’m sure there were more important spiritual influences at work, or maybe all these ‘Come’ hymns just sounded nice. Who knows. But I do think it’s interesting

The second verse of Come, Follow Me specifically talks about the word ‘Come’ – Come follow me, a simple phrase, yet truth’s sublime, effulgent rays, are in these simple words combined. To urge inspire the human mind.

First of all you’ve got to love any hymn that uses the word ‘effulgent’. Second, to think that sublime rays of truth are contained in a phrase that we hear all the time is interesting. But that’s really what it’s all about. We are constantly coming to Christ, there is never an arrival point, we can’t come far enough…more coming is always required.

References to knocking at doors are used in the scriptures, wherein Christ is the knocker, I stand and knock, and He is seemingly coming to us, as well as references where we are the knockers, knock and it shall be opened unto you. But in either case, a degree of coming to Christ is required of us, whether it’s knocking or coming to open the door.

For my own part, I think I’ve been willing to follow and come to a point, but there are lines I hadn’t crossed. If there’s anything I’ve come to believe over the last few months it is that faith isn’t faith if it’s easy, and if it doesn’t include a little bit of stretching. Continuing to come, despite not knowing or feeling or wholly believing, is what faith looks like for me, and it’s been unbelievably rewarding.

The Goal is in Sight

I was listening to church music today when I caught the phrase the goal is in sight which is in the third verse of Do What is Right. And suddenly I was thinking of all the moments over the last few months, weeks even, that brought me to where I am. Something I have always struggled with is seeing how the Lord has guided me. I believe He has, but it’s been difficult to point to specific instances.

I can look back at a conversation with my uncle that started because of a random blog post I came across on Facebook. Then there was an important conversation with my aunt, an unheard of opportunity/excuse to be alone and away from regular life for a day at Lake Powell, conversations with a friend, a conversation with another aunt and uncle, a testimony meeting, and pretty unmistakable moments of feeling the spirit throughout all of that. Those conversations could have gone lots of ways, going to Lake Powell alone that first time actually didn’t make a lot of sense with everything else I was doing, going to my uncle’s cabin late after a long Saturday just to spend time with him and his wife didn’t make a lot of sense and was definitely outside the norm, going to my parents’ Ward out of the blue on a fast Sunday had never happened before, and then talking with a friend about these deeply personal things, despite not having been all that close to this friend previously.

So… I can see the hand of the Lord in all of that. It wouldn’t have all happened that way just as a matter of coincidence, and I certainly didn’t plan it. So wow! What a great feeling to realize it’s finally happening, after eight years of being a wandr’er in the paths of sin, with a wounded heart, anger and malice, having drawn myself apart and having searched my soul to no avail…I want to jump up and down but also wait and see. Nothing is ever done. A friend asked me if I have the spirit in my life, and the more I thought about that question, the more I realized I do. I have experienced a change of heart, and in response to Alma’s question, yes I can feel so now!

Wounds Concealed

I was listening to A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief on a plane yesterday and was struck by the end of the fifth verse. The first part of that verse is essentially the parable of the Good Samaritan, but the second part the Samaritan says he has (himself) a wound concealedbut from that hour forgot the smart, And peace bound up (his) broken heart.

“Concealed wounds” could cover a lot of different things though the one that came immediately to my mind was guilt. Maybe it’s not right to think of guilt as a wound, but I think it is, albeit a self-inflicted one. In my experience it’s deeply painful, and possibly more so because of the fact that I did it to myself. Alma says guilt should only trouble us to bring us down to repentance, a wound with a point I suppose, and that verse makes it seem like there is this distinct arrival or end point – down to repentance.

There is so much poetic and beautiful (at least in the eye of this beholder) language about the relief of repentance. Just one example I find to be pretty powerful: Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. I also happened to see a post by a friend on Facebook yesterday, whose comments really struck me:
I’ve been guilty of flattering myself into believing that my sins and my sorrow could be too big for Christ. But that’s because I failed to grasp the depth and intensity of His love and His power to lead us out of the darkness and into the day. To quote George Elliot, “It’s NEVER too late to be what you might have been.” It’s never too late for Christ to shower you with love and blessings. You cannot run far or fast enough to be beyond the reach of His redemption.”
 
I could go on and on about language I find so compelling on this topic, but I’m sure you’re well aware of it. I love it all, in a poignant sort of way. I believe in the power of repentance, I believe peace and relief can be found through Christ. I have absolutely felt a difference in spirituality over the last few months, and I love the idea of forgetting the smart of some wounds and feeling peace binding up my broken heart. 

Because I Have Been Given Much

I was surprised and interested to find that Because I Have Been Given Much is listed in the Topical Guide of the hymn book under Missionary Work, but I suppose it’s the third verse, “I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word,” which relates. One of the listed scriptures was Jacob 2:17, “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance,” which caused me to think about what “substance” I can impart in a helpful way. I certainly won’t be going on a mission, but I think I can share experiences with other people that might be helpful, especially by thinking of ways others might be “like unto” me, as it says, in having similar struggles.

I have by no means arrived when it comes to the gospel or a testimony, but the fact that I’ve worked through some things somewhat, including the spiritually-destructive effects of depression, might mean there are words which Jesus would have me speak or some wandr’er whom I should seek. Even if I don’t find ways where I can be of help, reading this was a great reminder of all the people who have treated me “like unto themselves.” I’ve had so many people who have helped mentor me or shared their experiences with the gospel and life in general, and that has made all the difference. I have definitely been given much.

Songs of the Heart

I really believe and am grateful for the fact that God delights in the song of the heart and that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto Him. I don’t really have the prayer thing figured out yet, but I feel a degree of that communion when I sing or listen to hymns and other church music. I can’t express my feelings well in conversation, but I identify with the second verse of There is Sunshine in My Soul Today: There is music in my soul today, a carol to my King, and Jesus listening can hear, the songs I cannot sing.

I’m no poetry expert but I think the language in the hymns is incredibly poetic. Phrases like truth’s sublime effulgent rays or my friendship’s utmost zeal to try or the dove of peace sings in my heart – and I could go on and on and on – are just so eloquent and expressive how I think or feel.

When I read or sing the hymns I am able to express my most heartfelt beliefs and desires, my feelings about the gospel, my gratitude for friends and family, etc. and I know that God hears those expressions directly, without any of the limitations of my mental or verbal communication.