Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our Father God, the Lord of All

Another "lyrics for a traditional hymn tune" poem (see entry for July 28), this one inspired by the tune "Mit Freud­en Zart," to which is set the hymn "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above." Discerning readers will notice that my poem also follows the "Trinity" pattern used in another famous hymn, "Come, Thou Almighty King." That is, each of the first three verses praises one Person of the Holy Trinity, while the final verse praises the "Three in One" ("One in Three" in the "Almighty King" hymn).

Our God is a highly multifaceted God, which is one reason we writers never run out of new ways to talk about Him. All-powerful yet gentle and compassionate; the Bringer of avenging justice yet the Pardoner who willingly took the punishment for human wrongdoing; the One Who brings thunder and earthquake and yet (Is. 42:3 and Mt. 12:20) will not break a bruised reed. Many people think that the Old Testament God is "all justice" and the New Testament God is "all mercy." Anyone who reads the entire Bible will quickly see the fallacy in this idea.

Let's not be too quick, however, to criticize those who assert it. A one-sided view of God is a temptation any of us can fall prey to. Some Christians emphasize persecution to an extent that can leave us wondering if it's a sin to get through a day without being spat on; other Christians torment the suffering by insisting that God wants every believer to be healthy and wealthy and that those who aren't have only their own sin or lack of faith to blame. Some Christians assert "God hates the sexually impure" to an extent that not only makes enemies of those who don't wish to reform but discourages those who do from seeking God's help; other Christians lay such emphasis on God's grace that they tempt us to think He doesn't really care if we sin (cf. Rom. 6:1-2). With all of us, the temptation abounds to focus on those verses of Scripture we personally find "convenient" and to ignore the rest.

What we should be ignoring is any suggestion that God is either easy to figure out or in automatic support of our every opinion.

Our Father God, the Lord of All, reigns high above Creation,
The Lord of time, the Lord of space, the God of every nation;
His power and might no human mind can ever probe, nor see behind
The ways of our Foundation.

Our Savior God, the Son of Man, is Lord of all things living,
The Lord of love, the Lord of peace, His mercy freely giving;
His heart is warm, His heart is kind; He urges us to seek and find,
And sing to Him thanksgiving.

Our Leader God, the Comforter, is Heaven’s own strength within us,
The Lord of strength, the Lord of hope, the Lord Who woos to win us;
His power comes forth like burning fire; and in His strength we never tire,
For He is living in us.

The Lord of Lords, the Three in One, deserves all awe and wonder:
He lit the stars that brighten space; His voice speaks in the thunder;
Yet still He stooped to raise us high; and we, in Him, will never die,
We whom His love live under.

1 comment:

robert said...

Point well taken--that it is easy to put God in a mental box of our own making, or dwell upon certain aspects of His nature and character and ignore the rest. You suggest a remedy for this: reading (and studying) the whole Bible. And even an exploration of the names and descriptive phrases used for God in the Scriptures is enlightening.

It should not surprise us that finite and fallible creatures have trouble grasping the Infinite. In the words of Job, "Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!" (Job 26:14, NKJV). Getting to know the Lord will occupy us for all eternity, and continue to energize our praise.

Thanks for your insights. Drop by my daily blog, Wordwise Hymns when you have an opportunity. God bless.