Thursday, February 7, 2008

In You Is My Strength

I have a confession to make. I hate Scripture references.

Before anyone calls the Inquisition, let me quickly add that I do not hate Scripture. What I hate is to be cruising through a Christian book or Bible study, and hit a list of fifty citations consisting solely of book names with chapter and verse numbers--accompanied by the not-always-unspoken demand that I interrupt my reading to pick up a Bible and review each one. Presumably to compensate for the writer's being too lazy to copy them out herself.

I very nearly threw a book out the window last night when, already hurrying to get through the chapter and move on to finish other things by bedtime, I came upon a written exercise instructing me to "Review thoroughly each Scripture cited"--two double-columned pages of them--"and note any instances where God humbled people."

That was the book's subject: Christian humility. And there I was considering my time too valuable to waste on studying it.

Like most human beings, I tend to think of myself as a "good," if not exactly perfect, person--until I remember what the Bible has to say about our natural depravity. "'There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Rom. 3:10-12, NIV). "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way" (Is. 53:6).

Even aside from our natural propensity to obvious sin, we make fools of ourselves whenever we forget how great God is and how infinitesimal we are. Most of us could benefit quite a bit from taking half an hour daily to review God's attributes and our total inability to measure up on our own.

Even if--especially if!--it interferes with our preferred schedules.

Lord of all Greatness and Source of Grace,
Lord Who alone has the Power to Save,
Quick to respond to the sinner's prayer,
Who helps the tempted all things to bear--
You are Almighty and I am weak:
Give me the courage Your face to seek.

Lord of all Healing and Source of Strength,
In Whom all Wisdom and Justice link,
Gateway to Glory and Path to Peace,
In Whom all sinners can find release--
You are All-Righteous, I evil-stained:
Give me the victory that You have gained.

Lord All-Sufficient, Great King of All,
On Whom the suffering and wounded call,
Faithful and Merciful all in One,
You Whose Plans never can be undone--
You are enduring, my strength will fade:
Give Your own Power to this soul You made.

Lord Ever-Faithful and All-Supreme,
Incomprehensible, Mighty Being,
No power of earth ever conquers You,
Even dark death becomes nothing too--
You are Immortal, I trapped in time:
Give me the patience for Your Design.

Lord of the Present and Days to Come,
Master of Each Age Past and Gone,
Lord All-Deserving of Every Praise,
King Over All, Unsurpassed in Grace--
God All-Sufficient, my faith is small:
But feed it till it grows strong and tall.

No comments: