Vision check

I’ve been going through a bible study on revival with a friend, and while the insights have been helpful–and above all, I have gained a much deeper relationship with this incredible friend–the further we progressed, the more downhearted I felt. First it was: I must rest. And then it was: I must rest, and conquer my pride. And after that: I must rest, and conquer my pride, and develop boundaries.

Do you notice the pattern? Every week, a new shortcoming. This should not be shocking. After all, Romans 3:23 has long assured me that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All. Myself included. But as we powered through holiness–how can I ever be holy, when my internal to-do list is growing exponentially?–and into obedience, my spiritual legs gave out from beneath me.

I wrote the following pair of (non) revelations:I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing, but I know I’m not doing it…I know I’m not right, but I’m not sure what to stop.Not particularly insightful, or helpful, but maybe endearingly desperate?

At the end of that week, we went to church. It was our Sunday to work in the sound booth, and I was running lyrics for worship when we came to an old hymn I know intimately: “Be Thou My Vision.” I had all but checked out as we began. It was so old, after all. So familiar. And yet, we weren’t halfway through the first verse when my eyes opened to the words right in front of me, and the old became new all over again.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight; Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight; Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower: Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

What struck me was the intimacy of the lyrics. From the very first verse, I was struck by the notion of God being inseparable from his precious child: “Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.” Day or night, waking or sleeping. I with Thee, thou with me. Heart of my own heart. ONE.

The other things, they’re trappings. Useful tools, of course. It’s good to work on humility or obedience. But those things, they will likely fall into place if we are actually in God’s presence, intimately and completely. Not doing, but rather just being there–regardless of whatever is on that internal (or external) to-do list.

There’s a useful quote in the study from Del Fehsenfeld Jr.: “Most of us do not need to hear more truths; we simply need to obey that which we already know.” And sometimes, that comes in the form of a familiar hymn, the pages worn in my head but fresh in my heart. Be thou my vision, O Lord of my Heart, and thy presence my light.


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