Sometimes, I go back and read through my old journals. This can be both encouraging and discouraging. On the one hand, I can often see how I’ve grown as a person and a Christian. On the other hand, I can see how in some respects, I haven’t really grown at all. The weaknesses I dealt with ten years ago are the ones I’m still battling. Hopefully, a little less, but they’re still there. I have a generalized lack of trust and contentment. But God is still working on me.
Today, I stumbled across an entry from January 26, 2010. I’m going to share it here, because I did find it encouraging.
A few weeks ago while at a Bible conference, I was standing in the middle of a crowd of young people, singing. The words to the song were projected onto a screen in front of us. It was one of my favorite hymns. Without much warning, the truth of it seemed to overpower me and soon my voice wouldn’t work. I stood there, looking up at the screen through misty eyes, listening to the people singing those beautiful words.
The hymn was, “Nearer, Still Nearer,” and it has effected me that way more than once. I am not a poet. But I have a great admiration for a poet who can speak the truth in such a way that is goes far beyond simple facts or, even worse, worn-out platitudes and clichés. But when he can present that truth, so that immediately I think to myself, “That person has felt the same way I have,” that’s what makes the difference. The words are powerful because of the experience of the author behind them. At the conference that day, there was not one verse of the song that did not directly apply to me.
Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart
Draw me, my Savior, so precious Thou art
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast,
Shelter me safe in that haven of rest
Shelter me safe in that haven of rest.
I run all day. I get up in the morning, hurriedly read a few chapters in my Bible, get ready for school, and rush out the door. I go to classes, do some studying, and drive to work. After work, I rush home, find something to eat and study some more. At the end of the day, I lay my weary head on the pillow. It is then that I realize God hasn’t entered my thoughts since I left the house in the morning. My mind flips back to all the times I allowed irritation and frustration and anxiety to get the better of me. “Draw me, my Savior…” If He did not draw, no one would come.
Nearer, Still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an offering to Jesus my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
It is after a long day of failures that I feel my bankruptcy most. All I have to give my Savior is a sinful, stubborn heart that will only come to Him because He draws me. I come asking Him to “grant me the cleansing…” because He promised He would not cast me out.
Nearer, still nearer, Lord to be thine!
Sin with its follies, I gladly resign,
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride
Give me but Jesus my Lord crucified,
Give me but Jesus my Lord crucified.
When He forgives me and gives me His cleansing, I see the foolishness of my sin. I see the foolishness of me because I know that some time in my pride, I’ll do the same, stupid thing again. I am amazed at the love of God, that even though I am so foolish, He still loves and forgives me. He will take me back a thousand times. I know it because He is the one that draws me back. “Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.”
Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last,
Til safe in glory my anchor is cast.
Through endless ages ever to be,
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee.
If it were not for Christ’s promise that He would finish what He began in me, I would lose hope. But I know that I am nearer and farther along than I was before because He draws me. He will draw me until I reach Heaven. There He’ll hold me up as a trophy of His grace, and I will finally have what I’ve always wanted, what I’ve fought against my human nature for. “Through endless ages, ever to be, nearer my Savior, still nearer to Thee.”