I have spent part of the morning leafing through my collection of worship songs, preparing for Sunday worship. In amongst all the new songs, there are a few hymns, some of which are simply handwritten on the back of another sheet.
I tend not to pick them. Because they have such regular meters they can often come out quite pedestrian and uninspiring. I know that there are those who would take the words and rework the melody but I like the hymns the way that they are! They stir my spirit and tend to be the songs that I sing for the rest of the day.
I think because of my time in the Brethren Church, hymns tend to me my natural worship language. I like order – clear melodies and structured verses appeal to the poet in me. I have just spent the last few days with Stephen Fry’s book “The ode less followed” and have just written pages of iambic pentameters.
I haven’t sung many of them for a long time, but I am amazed at how well I know the words.
“Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified
One day He’s coming, Oh glorious day!”
This is a chorus from a favourite. It is creed and sums up so perfectly what Christ has done for me. It is the gospel in a nutshell.
The hymn doesn’t have any verses in it that relate to what I do – only what Jesus did for me. As I sing the chorus - “Living. He loved me” – how does that make a difference to the way I live my life? To be loved unconditionally by Almighty God – wow!
I was thinking about God’s love and the Spirit spoke to me and said, “Do you know that you are fiercely loved?” He kept repeating the word “fiercely”.
The dictionary defines fierce as “violent in force, intense, passionate, strenuously active or resolute.” God does not demonstrate a love that is anything less than these things. How He demonstrates that love might be with the utmost gentleness – but He is passionate and resolute.
Reading Psalm 18 this morning, I could see some of this fierceness in the words. I can fully sympathise with David feeling overwhelmed and weak and being confronted with enemies that are far too strong for him to deal with. He call out to God – and then see what happens – verse 7 – the earth quaked and trembled, the foundations of the mountains shook…Smoke poured from God’s nostrils…fierce flames leap from his mouth….the brilliance of His presence breaks through the clouds…He thunders from the heavens…He shoots arrows and scatters His enemies.” That is fierce!
No wonder so often God tells us not to be afraid! When we get that response from God when we are overwhelmed and cry out to Him – pity that we often cry, but that is all we do – we just cry. Sometimes we just allow ourselves to be overwhelmed without crying out to God and we never give Him the chance to be fierce.