Nothing between my soul and my Savior, naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure; Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between my soul and my Savior, so that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor; keep the way clear! let nothing between.
Nothing between, like worldly pleasure; habits of life, though harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him ever sever; He is my all, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between, like pride or station; self or friends shall not intervene;
Though it may cost me much tribulation, I am resolved, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between, e’en many hard trials, though the whole world against me convene;
Watching with prayer and much self-denial, I’ll triumph at last, there’s nothing between.
I wanted to share some background of this hymn. If you are like me, I had never heard this particular hymn before. I first heard of this hymn when my wife came home singing a new hymn that the Glory Voices (An interdenominational group of women singing in hymns in Nairobi – Kenya). However, the powerful story behind its author and the honesty of the words made me put it on my “to do” list.
Charles Tindley has a remarkable personal story. His parents were slaves, but he was separated from them at age 5. He taught himself how to read and write on his own at age 17. He attended night school, took correspondence classes to earn his seminary degree and was ordained in the Methodist church. While attending school, he worked as the janitor of the Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. He later became the pastor of that same church. Under his leadership, the church underwent several large building projects including the construction of a new church building. In spite of his protest, the new church building was renamed Tindley Temple Methodist Church.
I find it very interesting that this “self-made” man is writing about “self-denial” in the verses of this song. He had a difficult childhood and wasn’t given the “head start” that many other people have. He could have easily worn that as a “badge of honor” and took pride in his hard work and personal perseverance. He did realize, however, the importance of humility and did not let his ego come between his relationship with the Lord.
Couple of comments on the hymn:
Habits of life though harmless they seem – What do you think of when someone says habit? Do you think of good habits, bad habits, or a nun’s outfit? This phrase really spoke to me when I read it, and then when I heard someone sing it. We probably think of bad habits interfering with our relationship with God. Maybe certain vices that people have that take precedent over God. But how about good habits? Does your daily routine supersede your relationship with the Lord? Would you give up your “quiet time” to serve a brother or sister or perhaps a lost soul at 6:00 in the morning at a food kitchen? Would you go to the late service at church where they might not sing a hymn if it meant a sinner would join you at church? Would you sit on the front row at Church even if it didn’t have your name engraved on the pew to make room for a visitor? The author here reminded me that the most important thing is our relationship with God. He must be the priority. The Spirit’s moving should not be impacted by what our calendar looks like. Sometimes these “interruptions” can be during the times where we are doing what we are supposed to (praying, reading the Bible, going to Church), but I think God desires obedience to the Spirit more than He does our “sacrifices” for Him. I Samuel 15:22 says ” But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
Though it may cost me much tribulation – Were you told that everything would be “rosy” when you became a Christian? Did someone tell you that life would be filled with blessings all the days of your life? There are lots of hymns that celebrate the Christian life. Songs like “Joy Unspeakable” or “There shall be showers of blessing” and many others remind us that the Christian life is a blessed life. However, we also know that the spirit of this world is opposed to God and to God’s people. People have a sinful nature, and many times are opposed to what God is doing. Friends may turn against you for your stance on certain issues. Your family can sometimes provide ungodly counsel to you when what you feel the Spirit calling you to do goes against their desires. Have you ever heard someone ask “are you sure God is calling you into missions?” “Won’t you be taking my grandchildren away if you go over seas to be a missionary?” Unfortunately, what the Lord leads us to do may go against what others desire us to do and it can cost us much tribulation. Tribulation can come from a variety of sources, but as the author reminds us, we shouldn’t let that come between our relationship with him.
Are you familiar with the Franklin Covey daily planners/task organizers? Although I have never used one of these systems, I have worked with coleagues that have and know a little bit about them. It is a system used by lots of people to organize their day and their lives. These organizers help you track your “to do” lists, remind you of meetings and appointments, and can help you make sure you don’t miss important dates like birthdays, anniversary, etc. One of the other things they are supposed to help you do is prioritize your tasks. You rank your “to do’s” in order of importance so that the urgent doesn’t outweigh the important. For many people, this is a great tool. However, I have seen people who became so attached to their task organizer that they couldn’t function without it. The stress of letting that book manage them and their schedule outweighed the benefit they received by using it, and negatively impacted their relationship with other people.
Do you have certain tasks or “to do’s” that have drained the joy from your relationship with the Lord? Do you check off “read the Bible and pray” as a “to-do” rather than viewing it as a time to hear from God? Have your people relationships (work, family, friends) taken priority over your relationship with Lord? The author gave us the recipe for getting our priorities back in line in the last verse of this hymn – “much prayer and self-denial.” Those “ingredients” aren’t the easiest to come by. But if your goal is, like the author’s, to remove anything that comes between you and the Lord, then you will make time for those things so that there is nothing between. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from the love of God and I believe that wholeheartedly. But I do know that there are things that can come between our relationship with Him. This hymn is a great reminder, and should be our personal prayer, that we let “nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing” come between us and the Lord