Wednesday, 19 October 2011

From lethargy awake!

I don't have much to say except a resounding 'amen' to follow the words of epic hymn-writer Frank Houghton, who wrote 'Facing a task unfinished' in 1930.

Firstly however, I have to be honest and admit that at present I miss the zeal of my eighteen year old self. The overriding disposition of my heart wants to say 'all I want is Christ', (because I know that only Jesus is worth my wanting), but I can't ignore my fruitless deviations, my sinful, often stubborn and entirely stupid resistance to God and his purposes.

To want God alone, I need to be reminded every day of who He really is. God's glory, the fullness of his whole being and the nature of his character, is revealed most clearly at the cross. At the cross we see a God who is gracious loving kindness itself- the giving of his gifts does not depend on anything I have or haven't done. Since I have fallen so far short of being who God created me to be, this is just as well. I simply don't deserve the gifts, never mind the giver. But this recognition of my absolute inadequacy shouldn't amount to defeat, since my identity and status before God no longer rest on who I am in myself, but on the new identity I have in Christ. Here is a God who died and rose so that I could know him and live despite it all.

And so, I need God to reveal more of his character to me as I read about him in the bible, and I need to be real about the challenges this sets me. I want to know God more, and rejoice in loving the Lord, truly knowing he is all that I have and all that I need. Whilst I stumble and struggle in this over angst and apathy, I need to ask God to help me to have faith in his never failing faithfulness. The bible says that even youths will become exhausted, fall down and give up, but those who wait upon the Lord will find a new strength, since he never grows weak or weary.

In light of this, here is my favourite hymn this week. A roaring encouragement to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, rely on God alone and keep on keeping on.

'Facing a task unfinished,
That drives us to our knees,
A need that undiminished,
Rebukes our slothful ease,
We, who rejoice to know Thee,
Renew before Thy throne,
The solemn pledge we owe Thee,
To go and make Thee known.

Where other lords beside Thee
Hold their unhindered sway,
Where forces that defied Thee,
Defy Thee still today,
With none to heed their crying
For life, and love, and light,
Unnumbered souls are dying,
And pass into the night.

We bear the torch that flaming
Fell from the hands of those,
Who gave their lives proclaiming
That Jesus died and rose.
Ours is the same commission,
The same glad message ours,
Fired by the same ambition,
To Thee we yield our powers.

O Father Who sustained them,
O Spirit Who inspired,
Saviour, Whose love constrained them,
To toil with zeal untired,
From cowardice defend us,
From lethargy awake!
Forth on Thine errands send us
To labour for Thy sake.'

-Facing a task unfinished
Frank Houghton (1930)