Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Take My Life and Let It Be (Strength in Hymn)

"Take My Life and Let It Be"
Frances Ridley Havergal,  1874

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;

Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,

Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;


Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;

Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,

Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;

Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,

Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,

It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.

Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,

Ever, only, all for Thee.

About the Hymn

Frances Ridley Havergal, daughter of a British minister, consecrated her life to Jesus as a teenager in the mid 1800’s. A teacher, Mrs. Teed, had an indelible spiritual influence on her.  Frances never married, and only lived until age 42.  She was incredibly accomplished not only in academics but in personal ministry.  Though due to her poor health, she didn’t receive much formal education, she learned six languages, including Greek and Hebrew.  She was an excellent musician and wrote over 100 hymns.  Of the writing of this hymn, she is quoted here:

I went for a little visit of five days [to Areley House, Worcestershire, in December 1873]. There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. [God] gave me the prayer, "Lord, give me all this house." And He just did! Before I left the house, everyone had got a blessing. The last night of my visit... I was too happy to sleep and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration, and these little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart, one after another, till they finished with "Ever, only, all, for Thee."

Why I Picked This Hymn

I picked this particular hymn for my Strength in Hymn series because I’ve been thinking lately about the topic of consecration – presenting yourself to God for his set-apart service.  So many of us started well in the Christian life but have wandered in one area another away from a whole-hearted devotion to Jesus and his ways.  Yet consecration is not a once in a lifetime offer.  It is something we do continually, in small ways from day to day, as well as more momentous recommitment and repentance at certain crossroads of life.  I am seeking ways to draw closer to God during a difficult season of life when it is more challenging to see his purposes and providences. 

If you like this hymn about how God uses each part of our bodies for his glory, you might also like my poem Corpus Christi.

About the Photographs

All of these pictures were taken at Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida.  I have visited there countless times over the past 30 years, often with several children, and especially enjoy the free admission on the first Monday of each month.  I’d been meaning to visit for a long time, but something always came up.  A few weeks ago, while my children were in school, I went all by myself and strolled around at my pleasure – through the lovely plant displays, past the sculptures, to the lake to feed the turtles with bits of stale tortillas and watch the stately heron.  I also toured the historic Leu House, decorated in Victorian style.  I’ll save those photos for another post.  I enjoy being refreshed with the beauty of God’s Creation as well as the creativity of people.

Other botanical garden posts:

Other flower posts:

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Sunday, March 9, 2014

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus (Strength in Hymn)

“O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus”
Samuel Trevor Francis

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean

in its fullness over me!

Underneath me, all around me,

is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,

changeth never, nevermore!

How He watches o’er His loved ones,
died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth,

watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing,

’tis a haven giving rest!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,

for it lifts me up to Thee!

About the Hymn:  The hymn was written by Samuel Trevor Francis after a moment of despair when he was tempted to end his life by jumping from London’s Hungerford bridge into the turbulent waters below.  You can read more here at Songs and Hymns: O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus.   The hymn tune, “Ebenezer,” is Welsh and its name means “stone of help.”  It is also the tune for “Once to Every Man and Nation” by James R. Lowell, which I mentioned here: For Such a Time as This.

Why I Picked This Hymn:  This hymn has been on my list for upcoming Strength in Hymn posts for a while, but a recent beach trip with our family clinched the deal.  Of course this post needs ocean pictures!  I love the hymn, which we have often sung in church since I was a teenager, because it reminds me of the all-sufficient love of God even when I feel like I am overwhelmed with life.  He is very deep, but he paradoxically lifts me high.  The story of how this hymn was written brings to mind the beautiful old Simon & Garfunkel song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” that I’ve been listening to a lot lately.  (That's an understatement!)  I am thinking of a young friend of our family who is going through a very tough time, and how we’ve tried to be there for him - like a bridge over troubled water.  Our concern is not enough to fix his problems, but we do what we can.  We need to trust the love of God, which is far deeper, far wider, far higher.

With God's love,
Virginia Knowles

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

If You Expect Real Respect...

If you expect real respect, show your strength, not your power. Lead with your character, not your charisma.  Cultivate your inner integrity, not your outer image.  Admit your weaknesses; don't pretend perfection.  Be tender-hearted yet tough enough to endure; don't be bitter or brittle.  Motivate with inspiration, not manipulation.  Leaders listen.

Embrace your equality with others.  Don't cling to (or hide behind) your gender, your color, your age, your wit, your wealth, your beauty, your education, your successes, your connections, your rank, or your title.  We need each other! 

Real respect is reflected in mutual consideration, cooperation, community, and most of all, compassion.  Respect flourishes when there is liberty and justice for all.  Look out for the least and the little, for the Greatest One is watching you.

If you want real respect, share it freely and fully with others; don't demand it for yourself.  Coerced admiration is worse than worthless.  Insincerity increases insecurity.  Flattery is a feigned feast that leaves you hungrier than ever.   Sham will not cover shame.  It is far better to be clothed with simple dignity than to be exposed as the “emperor who wore no clothes.” 

Real respect?  The kind that truly matters?  There is no other way.  If you expect real respect, just set your heart on becoming really respectable.


A few more thoughts on my essay above...

A popular Christian blogger, Matt Walsh, recently wrote an article called "Your Husband Doesn't Have to Earn Your Respect" and set off a firestorm of nearly 2,000 comments so far.  The irony is that so many, while claiming to promote respect, expressed their viewpoints with words of contempt for the opinions and experiences of others.  Sarcasm, loaded language, subtle put downs, unveiled ad hominem attacks, insinuations, and presumption of motives all detracted from the conversation.  I prefer to be civil and cordial.
As I wrote, "I think it would be helpful to distinguish between kinds of respect. We can treat everyone with a basic dignity, especially a close family member, even if they don’t have particularly commendable behavior. This includes looking for the good and verbally acknowledging it, even when there are problems. It means overlooking what we can. That does not mean, however, that we have any obligation to admire the character of anyone who really has poor behavior." 
Reiterating this in my later comment: "Respect is important, no matter who you are, man or woman, young or old. Words have power. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can break my heart.  Basic dignity is due to all, no matter what. We should be courteous and kind, even if we do not agree, and even if we must, in good conscience, intervene to prevent destructive behavior.  Authentic trust and admiration are based on our perceptions of what someone is doing or saying. They can be built up or broken down. We can’t demand it. We have to earn it. That’s a fact of life."

I didn't say this in my comments on Walsh's blog post, but we should obviously have proper respect for position as well: spouse, parent, pastor, teacher, employer, government official, the elderly, those with whom we have business contracts, etc.  However, this is what we focus on when we think of respecting others, not what we can just assume as our absolute right when we are in those positions ourselves.   As a mother, I want my children to respect me.   As a teacher, I want my students to respect me.  There is nothing wrong with that, and I should be regularly encouraging them in that healthy habit.  After all, part of my job is keeping order in the home and classroom.  However, this is not for my own ego, but for their good, packing their "life toolbox" with skills for their success, both now and in the future.  If I expect a more meaningful personal (rather than positional) respect from them, I should try to live up to it. That starts with mutual respect.  The one who leads should be the one who serves.  Frankly, that has been a paradigm shift for me in recent years, and I still have a long way to go in both giving and receiving respect.  So really, you could say that I am writing to myself most of all.
I share those comments to clarify what I wrote in my little "If You Expect Real Respect" essay above.   That's not the only thing that prompted me to write today, however.  I see this issue of respect as an on-going and very pertinent theme in the Christian blogging community.  Though I have mainly been writing about old hymns lately, the main mission of this Watch the Shepherd blog is to address the issues of abuse of authority in families, churches, and religious organizations.  Why does this happen? Usually, it's because those who are in perceived positions of power are demanding respect but not giving it.  That is just my two cents worth.

There is so much more I could say.  I could think of numerous Scripture verses, Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and even links to other web sites.  In the interest of time, however, I'll leave you with these related posts from this blog instead...
I would love to hear your thoughts about real respect, so leave a comment!

Virginia Knowles