March 17, 2017

A song for balance

When I was a new Christian, I attended an old-fashioned church that sang hymns from a hymn book! Some still do that, but we sing so many choruses that when a hymn is selected, people of a certain vintage are delighted.

Those old hymns are strong with theology. Many of them were written when Christians needed their faith affirmed and reinforced. Today’s repetitious choruses may reveal something about the state of our faith today.

All that aside, I turned to another devotional today that uses hymn stories. Of course I know the tune and the words to this oldie: Trust and Obey.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, but His smile quickly drives it away; not a doubt nor a fear, not a sigh nor a tear, can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, but our toil He doth richly repay; not a grief nor a loss, not a frown nor a cross, but is blest if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay, for the favor He shows and the joy He bestows are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, or we’ll walk by His side in the way; what He says we will do, where He sends we will go—Never fear, only trust and obey.
Chorus: Trust and obey—for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus—but to trust and obey.

As the author says, these words provide a balance for the Christian life. I am to trust God totally, but that does not mean sitting on my duff expecting Him (or someone else) to do everything. At times, His plan includes my actions as part of the way He carries it out. According to these verses, obedience is part of trusting God.

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:3–5)

“If anyone loves me (Jesus), he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  . . . Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God.  . . . For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:14–26)

If I trust my doctor, then I will take my pills. If I trust the dress pattern that I bought, then I will sew it accordingly. If I trust God, then I will do what He says. The concept is simple, but obedience is sometimes very difficult. I tend to depend on being certain about what God wants before doing what I think He says, but the young man who prompted the songwriter to write “Trust and Obey” said, “I am not quite sure—but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.”

Jesus, You know how I’ve struggled with doing something that seems impossible for me. I’ve made dozens of excuses and You have answered each one with clear statements from Your Word. Today, You speak to me again: If I love You, then I must do what You tell me to do and trust  the problems that I cannot do into Your care.

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