I usually begin my hymn analysis with the hymn lyrics, then the story behind the hymn and finally a few comments about the hymn. But today I feel like starting from the end. It is my 44th Birthday and I have been musing over the grace of God so much. The Lord has brought me thus far by grace and will be with me till the end. He curved my path, with all its rough edges and granted me grace to walk through it till the end of it. To spice it all, He gave me Enid to walk with me the rest of the journey. Thank God for His grace -this is sufficient for me.
There was a specific time in my life that I found new courage through discovering what God has done for me. Oh how I thank God for his faithfulness. He has taken me from the miry clay and set my feet upon the rock. That is the mystery of grace: it never comes too late. Yes I may not at all understand the mystery of grace but I know that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. I agree with Martin Luther when he said Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes.
I have learnt that the growth of grace is like the polishing of metals. There is first an opaque surface; by and by you see a spark darting out, then a strong light; till at length it sends back a perfect image of the sun that shines upon it. Thank God that through it all I have learnt to depend upon His word. God and God alone. Yes only God for me. Do not trust in princess, in mortal men who cannot save. When their spirits depart, they return to the ground and on that very day, their plans come to nothing. No human being is to be relied upon. Even the greatest saints around you will vanish when the devil has tripped you.
How much can I agree with Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) when he sings “I need thy presence every passing hour; what but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?” This Lord have I learnt; that when the mask of self-righteousness has been torn from us and we stand stripped of all our accustomed defences, we are candidates for God’s generous grace. The grace of God which is infinite and eternal. As this grace had no beginning, so it can have no end, and being an attribute of God, it is as boundless as infinitude.
In this hour of my meditation, have had a good reminder from Deuteronomy 4:32-40. When we read the book Deuteronomy it is important to remember that the book presents us with a situation where the history of Israel was at a turning point. Behind them was the history of how God delivered them from Egypt. Before them was the entrance into the Promised Land.
Moses calls upon the Israelites to examine their history carefully, to remember what had happened and to discover that this Lord who saved them is the true, unique and wonderful God.
For people who have been through it all like me, the Deuteronomy 4:32-40 text has solace. In Deuteronomy Moses is preaching to people who have travelled through a desert. For 40 years! To them he says: Think back and remember how God was! Even in the wilderness God revealed himself as the God who cares. Therefore we can now know that God is a wonderful God – even for those whose lives have become like a journey through the wilderness.
Beloved, remember what God has done, realise who God is and live in this time as his child. Because God will be with us in the coming days we can acknowledge one another’s pain and be there for each other.
Here is a hymn by Isaac Watts that speaks to these words.
Thus far the Lord hath led me on,
Thus far His power prolongs my days,
And every evening shall make known
Some fresh memorial of His grace.
Much of my time has run to waste,
And I, perhaps, am near my home;
But He forgives my follies past,
And gives me strength for days to come.
I lay my body down to sleep;
Peace is the pillow for my head;
While well appointed angels keep
Their watchful stations round my bed.
In vain the sons of earth or hell
Tell me a thousand frightful things
My God in safety makes me dwell
Beneath the shadow of His wings.
Faith in His name forbids my fear;
O may Thy presence ne’er depart!
And in the morning make me hear
The love and kindness of Thy heart.
Thus, when the night of death shall come,
My flesh shall rest beneath the ground,
And wait Thy voice to rouse my tomb,
With sweet salvation in the sound.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748) – The Pastor, Preacher, and Poet and hymn writer was an English man.. Wrote about 600 hymns including When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Am I a Soldier of the Cross, and Joy to the World. Considered the founder of English hymnody and children’s hymnody. He also published several volumes of theological discourses and a book on Logic that was used as a standard.