Friday, September 20, 2013

Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Strength in Hymn)

"Great Is Thy Faithfulness"

Thomas Chisholm – 1925

Great Is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Though changest not, 
Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great Is Thy faithfulness,
Great Is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

The beauty of nature witnesses to my soul about the glory and goodness of God. That's why I include so many nature photos on my blog. Experiencing God as the Grand Creator helps take the edge off of some of the negative perceptions about his character that I had acquired along the way.  God is life and love, not rules and regulations.

"Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow" is exactly what I need right now.  Say a prayer for me, will you?   And let me know how I can be praying for you, too.  That would be my privilege.

And now, since some of you said you like my personal "life" notes on the hymns... 

When I turned 50 earlier this month, my children and some of our friends and relatives compiled a beautiful photo album / scrap book for me with paragraphs of things they remembered about me.   My daughter Joanna sent in her entry from Australia, where she is a student this semester at the University of Canberra, and where she took the sunset photo above.  She wrote:

1. I appreciate the creativity you put into teaching us in elementary school.  I will always remember when we wrapped up in sheet togas and crawled through the catacombs we constructed in the dining room, complete with dripping water sound effects and candles.  You always wanted us to learn with our senses.

2. One of my first memories ever is hearing you sing "Great is Thy Faithfulness" as I fell asleep, and I still hear you singing it.  It always "brings me back" and makes me grateful to your faithfulness to us. 

3.  Over the past few years, you have modeled to me how to think critically and how to speak up graciously against injustice.  You have helped shape my plans to become a counselor.  As you have found your voice, I have as well."

I am so touched by her words.  

That first one -- the catacombs and bed sheets one -- was when we were learning about the early Christian martyrs who were persecuted and killed for their faith in the Roman empire. I wanted my children to remember that even though God is faithful and just and compassionate, that life will not always be sunshine and roses for this children.  He brings us through trials -- often severe ones -- to fulfill his greater purposes not only in our own lives but also in human history.  Our challenge is to keep trusting.

The second one -- hymn singing is something we did a lot more in the earlier years of child raising and home schooling, especially at bedtime for lullabyes and during a morning worship and Scripture reading.  It is something we need to revive somehow.  It's too easy to wander in what music we choose.  I don't mind my kids (who are now mostly teens and adults) listening to decent secular pop and country music, but shouldn't they also be listening songs which are inherently more wholesome and faith-building?  I notice difference that in my own life. Maybe that's why I started the "Strength inHymn" series? 

And the third -- learning to think and speak up -- is borne from the fires and trials of life.  Finding my voice meant getting past the pious passivity that often afflicts Christian women who believe they should be seen but not heard.  What my daughter is talking about is what's on this blog: posts on abuse of authority / legalismgender roles, and more.  Joanna knows that if time and money were no object for me, I'd go back and get a master's degree in counseling to help others work through these issues. But that's not an option at this point, so I guess I'll experience that vicariously through her and just keep writing my own little blog posts as my contribution to humanity.  Fortunately, I do have a new teaching job that I love, and that is a story of God's faithfulness right there!   I thank God for showing that care just when I needed it most, in the midst of a dark season of stress and loss and need.  That's a story for another day.  

Virginia Knowles

P.S. I took the rainbow picture at the top of the post yesterday evening. One of my teenage sons was leaving for a concert with his older sister, but took the time to call and tell me to get outside and see the rainbow!  Bless his heart!  The rainbow has always been a symbol of God's faithfulness.

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