We are learning a new song as a church family and I have been asked to make a few comments about why I like it. So, here goes.
Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken, written by Henry Lyte, is a classic hymn text. By that I mean that it has characteristic theological substance, gospel rich expression, and a poetically memorable arrangement. That’s why listening to it over and over again can have a significantly different effect on me than Darius Rucker or the Eli Young Band. That’s why it can be such a helpful tool in my spiritual formation.
Like you, I am often bothered by the circumstances of life. Things don’t work out as I want them to work out. People don’t act like I think they should. I don’t act like I think I should. So, I need to find ways to work the gospel into my own brokenness and the circumstances of my broken world. The third verse of this hymn does just that:
I have called Thee Abba, Father!
I have stayed my heart on Thee.
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather,
All must work for good to me.
Instead of worrying about all the things I want to fix or change around me, I should sing. I should sing or hum or meditate or somehow confess the truth of these lines: “I have stayed my heart on Thee.” Instead of being irritated by people or circumstances, I should practice the habit of resting in God—resting in his sovereign orchestration of my life.
When I sing “I have stayed my heart on Thee”, I am also making a statement about that on which I will not stay my heart:
- I will not stay my heart on what I think the solution to the problem is.
- I will not stay my heart on a man-made ideal.
- I will not stay my heart on that which is earthly and temporary.
- I will not stay my heart on the critical words of others—repeating them, resenting them.
- I will not stay my heart on others.
- I will not stay my heart on my own words, justifying and explaining myself.
- I will not stay my heart on me.
Instead, I will stay my heart on God himself. I will stay my heart on the only thing that abides forever—God and his Word. I will stay my heart on the one who works all things for his glory and my good.
“Storms may howl, and clouds may gather” but I will find that long-awaited repose in my heavenly Father, his perfect Son, and the peace-giving Holy Spirit. Now that’s something to sing about.