Thursday, April 30, 2009

To Break Thy Schemes of Earthly Joy...

As my daughter Jennie would say, I fail at blogging! I've had a stubborn case of "nothing to say," at least not in a public way. I've had plenty of thoughts clanking around in this brain but they haven't seemed very worthy of setting down in permanent form. I have learned something, though, during this dry spell, and it's something more of grace, and something more about myself. If I'm not writing something somewhere, I'm usually struggling around with something somehow. So I suppose that a new blog post is a good sign!

There are some things that go on with me that I cannot (as of yet, anyway) communicate very coherently... often wrapped up, one way or another, with the journey I'm on since the death of my son. Grief seems to take one through cycles of apparent strength, only to plunge one back into weakness; this has continued to surprise me. I think I have not known myself. I don't think God calls us to know ourselves in any narcissistic way, but I do believe His word reveals that we need to know and understand ourselves in a true way... to see ourselves as He sees us, as His word describes us, and what I'm learning is that His word describes us as being very weak indeed. Weak, that is, in our own resources, our own native strength and ability. Oh, how we keep trying to give the lie to this assessment of ourselves from Him! We acknowledge it with lip service, then plunge ahead in reliance on a strength and ability we do not really possess. It is His kindness to allow us to trip up, to fail and to grow frustrated and even despairing if we must, if that's what it takes to see things as they really are. It seems to take this, over and over, for me! (I think I am a slow and perhaps stubborn learner.)

But what sweetness to be laid low enough to see it once again. What freedom, to put off a mask (of cheerful competency) and put on the sheer grace of God once again. I think--I hope--I trust that I'll be taught by these cycles to remember better who and what I am, to look to who and what He is, for longer stretches of time. I believe that for all of us these times of forgetting how weak and unable we are apart from His grace and truth, which lead inevitably to painful places, will not be wasted, but will serve in comforting others with the same comfort with which we've been comforted.

I Asked the Lord

I asked the Lord that I might grow in faith and love and every grace,

Might more of His salvation know and seek more earnestly His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray and He, I trust, has answered prayer,

But it has been in such a way as almost drove me to despair.


I hoped that in some favored hour at once He’d answer my request

And by His love’s constraining power subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of this He made me feel the hidden evils of my heart,

And let the angry powers of Hell assault my soul in every part.


Yea more with His own hand He seemed intent to aggravate my woe;

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, cast out my feelings, laid me low.

“Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried. “Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?”

“Tis in this way,” The Lord replied, “I answer prayer for grace and faith.”


“These inward trials I employ, from self and pride to set thee free,

And break thy schemes of earthly joy, that thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

~ John Newton 1779


6 comments:

jan said...

I love you, sister. I love that you want to glorify God with your life. You are precious to me. Sister

Laurie M. said...

I love that poem. God never seems to work in our lives in the ways we wish He would. It's always at once both more painful and less than we would expect. Often He bring to us the very thing we dread just so we can see that He's more wonderful than the thing is dreadful. What an unusual God!

Laurie M. said...

P.S. glad you're back

jeri said...

Amen and thank you, sisters!

Rebecca said...

Found your blog by googling the lyrics to a song I was listening to today, found out it was a Newton poem ... wondering if you have heard it. Hope it is a blessing if you haven't. I was sort of blown away by the line, "To break thy schemes of earthly joy."

You could listen to it here on You Tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TftGIyzO-A8&feature=player_embedded

Jeri Tanner said...

The song you linked to is how I first heard the poem also, Rebecca. It's a great one! Thanks.