Sunday, March 23, 2008

Abide With Me

"Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 ESV

In the midst of all my searching for a denomination God has taught me so much, especially the end of John 15:5 "apart from me you can do nothing" ... I memorized that verse at bible school - I actually wrote a song to remember it, I always 'believed' it, but now I really know that I cannot do Anything without him. I have come to the realization that I am helplessly lost, and nothing I can do - save cling to Christ - will save me. The first part was always strange and abstract to me. How do I abide in Jesus? There is no way for me to describe it, perhaps that is why I didn't understand it until tonight. I always thought that it meant reading your bible and doing good stuff, but really it is alot closer related in my mind to Edwards' description at the end of Sinner's in the Hands of an Angry God, when he calls us to fall before God and cling to him. It is the overwhelming sense in my soul that only in as much as I am In Christ am I elected (at least that's what my Capernwray notes say - Mr. Stamford was an arminian).

A couple of months ago my friend Mark died in our basement from a heart attack, he was 40 something but he had such a passion for God. He believed in me so much and I remember having the most wonderful conversations with him about missions and being a preacher. He had a smile and personality that reminded me of Jesus. At his funeral we sang this song which reminded me of the verse I read, and it was there that I heard it for the first time. One of my bitternesses towards growing up in a willow-creek style / seeker-sensitive church is that I missed hymns like these. But perhaps it is a blessing, and maybe God is using it to teach me something from them, now that I'm old enough to understand. The hymn was called "Abide with Me"

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
-by Henry F. Lyte 1847

Henry F. Lyte was an Anglican Priest who contracted tuberculosis and as his health failed, after his last time preaching, he penned this hymn, not three weeks before he died. It is the official hymn of England... So I guess I have been living in a cave so to speak, because I had never heard it before.

I was listening to it tonight as I was realizing all of this, and after I had read John 13-15 in my Grandpa's King James Bible with all his notes written in it. The first verse I read was:

"having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." John 13:1 KJV

To me that reminded me so much of the hymn and the final lines. My silent prayer this week through all my struggles will be "O Lord Abide with Me"

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