Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Friend of Sinners, Gadsby Hymnal #1052

At Presbytery this morning, we sang a hymn from the Gadsby Hymnal: Friend of Sinners. One of the verses is:
"There, fastened to the rugged wood,
By Holy Love's resistless chain;
And life deriving from Thy blood,
Never to wander wide again."
That verse reminded me of a time 29 years ago when, as a relatively new follower of Christ, I entered into what believers of long ago called the "Dark Night of the Soul." I longed to know God, yet went through a long, long season when I experienced none of the Presence of God and very little sense of His love, favor and goodness. One night, while praying, I saw in my mind's eye, a scene at the cross (not a vision, it was simply a scene in my imagination!). In the scene, there was a lamb chained to the cross. It was a dark, cold, stormy night. Lightning was flashing, thunder clapping loudly. In the midst of the driving wind and rain, lightning and thunder, the lamb, filled with fear, jerked endlessly to try break free of the chain. Then another scene...this time, same lamb, same dark, cold, stormy night. Yet in the midst of it all, for some reason, the lamb was lying down, pressed in as close to the cross as it could get. Each time lightning cut holes in the darkness and thunder broke the silence, the lamb would shake, but remained pressed into the cross as it lay. The chain was still around its neck. Then, the last "frame" of the story. Same lamb, same cross, same dark, cold, stormy night. The lamb was still pressed into the cross, yet there was a peace, and it remained at ease even when the winds blew and rains fell and thunder clapped. And as I looked more closely, something was different....the chain was gone. The lamb was resting at the foot of the cross, not because it was chained there, but because it had no other place it would rather be in the midst of the storm. It took a lot of time for me to become that lamb, but the "resistless chain" of God's holy love never fails to accomplish its work. "And life deriving from Thy blood" enables and empowers us "never to wander wide again!"

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