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Posts Tagged ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’

Some time ago, wise-and-insightful blogger Michele Morin (at Living Our Days) shared that she was journaling through some of the old hymns. I imagined her digging into the meaning of some of the rich language and theology, personalizing the truths, and/or using them as the basis for prayer.

Putting pen or pencil to paper in such a way slows down our thinking, allowing wonderful blessings to emerge:

  • Increased knowledge of God and his Word
  • Clarity of understanding
  • A record of discoveries
  • A record of faith deposits for later encouragement
  • Renewal of the mind
  • Augmented intimacy with God

If writing a meditation sounds intimidating, adopt the attitude of Isaac Asimov:

“Writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers.”

Isaac Asimov

For Christian journalers, writing can be worshiping through our fingers.

But how do we even begin such a process? Try Anne Sexton’s approach:

When we invite Jesus into our lives, the Spirit of God takes up residence within our spirits (1). We can put our ears down close to our souls and listen hard for him to guide our thoughts and lead us to the insights he would have us discover.

And then, we fill our pages with the breathings of our hearts (2).

The following is an example of a journal entry, based on the first verse of the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”(3). The next four images contain the lyrics.

You, oh God, are the Source of every blessing—every provision, every answered prayer, every wise decision, every creative idea, every moment of joy. All good and perfect gifts come from you (4).

Out of your lavish generosity, blessings flow continually from your hand. May I be quick to praise you for each one as they demonstrate your lovingkindness.

This fount of blessing includes your mercy also. I praise you for your forgiveness, undeserving as I am. Thank you for looking upon me with compassion and tenderness in spite of my weaknesses, failures, and sins.

And I praise you that your mercy never ends! You are faithful to forgive me every time I come to you in repentance. Such grace is beyond comprehension. Yes, I want to sing songs of loudest praise, to honor you rightly for all you’ve done for me and continue to do.

Perhaps if I had the voice of an angel and knew the songs of heaven I could sing the full praise you deserve!

Nevertheless, I celebrate your name(s)—Shepherd, Lord of Peace, God of Grace, Father of Compassion and more. I glory in all the attributes indicated by each one. And I remember: the one trait that is part of them all: your unfailing love.

Thank you for loving me, in spite of my shortcomings; thank you for redeeming me from the consequences of my sins so I might enjoy you forever!

Should you decide to journal through a hymn or praise song, remember: perfection is not the goal, getting to know God better and worship him more passionately are the aims.

An added benefit? Our meditations will positively impact our words and actions (5).

Notes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:16
  2. based on a quote from William Wordsworth
  3. by Robert Robinson, text adapted by Margaret Clarkson
  4. James 1:17
  5. Joshua 1:8

Photo credits: http://www.pxfuel.com; http://www.canva.com; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.canva.com (2); http://www.flicker.com; http://www.freebibleimages.org.

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Given: the Baby Boomer generation is quite large.

Given: As children, many of those Boomers accompanied their parents to church.

Given: Many readers of this blog belong to that fine group!

Therefore, the following lyrics may sound familiar to you.

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing thy grace…

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
Hither by thy help I’m come.

Yes, I am at church. Amen

While singing this energizing hymn in the church of my youth, I wondered more than once, What on earth is an Ebenezer?  But by the time I arrived home, my mind was on the roast beef in the oven or the comics in the paper.

So, for any of you who live with a curious mind (albeit forgetful) as I do, here it is finally—an explanation of that puzzling term, raising an Ebenezer.

The answer is hiding in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel. During this period of Israel’s history, their archenemy was the Philistines.

The prophet, Samuel, explained the way to victory. “Rid yourselves of the foreign gods, and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines,” Samuel said (7:3).

The people obeyed the word of the Lord, given through the prophet, Samuel. God did indeed come to the rescue. “The Lord thundered…against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites” (v. 10).

In celebration of the victory, Samuel took a stone and set it up as a memorial of what God had done that day. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the Lord helped us” (v. 12). The word, Ebenezer, means “stone of help.”

English: Large Rock Giant rock at the side of ...

Every time an Israelite walked by that memorial, he would be reminded of God’s miraculous help against the Philistines that day. It would bring to mind the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord to his children.

Years ago I read about a family who kept a special rock collection in a glass jar, up on a bookshelf. On each flat stone, in permanent ink, was recorded a brief description of a special event that demonstrated God’s power and goodness to their family. They raised their own Ebenezers. The jar of stones represented the ways thus far the Lord had helped them (1 Samuel 7:12).

I don’t have such a jar of river stones. What a lovely tradition! But I do have a blessings journal, started in 1983. I’ve mentioned this collection before. Recorded within its pages are the wonderful, miraculous works God has accomplished for our family. The number of entries is now approaching nine hundred.

A few samples:

1985 – We were in need of some furniture; the choir director of our church “just happened” to have some in storage. Most of it was exactly what we needed.

1991 – My daughter and I were almost involved in a 4-car pile-up on an expressway entrance ramp. God protected us.

1994 – ‘Came out of the mall, after shopping for an hour, and discovered I’d left on the lights of the car. I prayed; God answered. The car started up just fine.

1998 – Our son, who never had much use for school, made the dean’s list.

Dean's List certificate

2003 – That same son was working for a dying business, and his paycheck was ten days past due. A friend offered him a job in their family business at the same salary, and allowed him to start immediately.

2008 – We attended an out-of-state wedding at which a small acappella ensemble sang. I thought, Wouldn’t it be fun to sing in such a group. Less than two months later, that’s exactly what I was doing! Our church choir director invited me to join a quintet he had been inspired to form.

2011 – We needed a china cabinet and hutch. While visiting the home of a friend, I couldn’t help but notice theirs—the exact style I would have liked. But M. had found hers at a thrift store and refurbished it. What were the chances we’d find a similar one? A month later, at a warehouse of estate sale finds, our china cabinet was waiting for us—very similar to M.’s.

Come to think of it, perhaps it’s a good thing I haven’t used rocks for our nine hundred Ebenezers. They’d never fit in a jar! For us, numerous pages in a notebook prove that “thus far the Lord has helped us (1 Samuel 7:12).”

Writing

And, no doubt, the Ebenezer-collection will continue to grow. God isn’t finished with us yet.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

What Ebenezers can you raise, that prove thus far the Lord has helped you? Share an example in the Comments section, to encourage the rest of us.

 

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