Hymns: I Will Sing The Wondrous Story

There is a worrying amount to do before September. It’s very tempting to just stick my head in the sand but I’ve done that enough already. When I finally dare to take my head out of the sand I always worry that I’ll be surrounded by paperwork. Fortunately, it’s mostly under control. But try telling that to the part of my brain that likes to panic…

So how good it is to have a hymn that reminds me of the wondrous story – the story of Christ, who died for me.

In the version I’m currently looking at (different versions seem to split the verses up differently), verse 2 is probably my favourite:

“I was lost, but Jesus found me,
found the sheep that went astray,
raised me up and gently led me
back into the narrow way.
Days of darkness still may meet me,
sorrow’s path I oft may tread;
but His presence still is with me,
by His guiding hand I’m led”

It’s a reminder that God’s always been there. A reminder that Jesus reaches out to help – He is not distant. And a reminder that He will always lead me, no matter what the circumstance.

The beginning of Isaiah 43 sums this up pretty well. It starts off, in verse 1, saying Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” This links very well with the line “I was lost, but Jesus found me”. And then Isaiah 43:2-3 sums up the rest of the verse pretty well.

But of course I enjoy the whole hymn. The wonder expressed in the repeated lines of “Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story/Of the Christ who died for me” helps to remind me of my salvation. And my privilege to share that with others.

To Your […] Add […]

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” – 2 Peter 1:5-7

Another occasion here where I’ve ended up looking at something pretty hard-hitting in the pursuit of making cushions. With a little bit of wider context, this is Peter’s challenge to Christians – to help us grow “active and effective in [our] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. And that’s pretty important to Peter. By verses 12-15, he’s making plans to keep reminding those he’s writing to about this, even once he’s dead.

This is a particularly challenging passage for me. Peter is reminding us that despite God’s grace, and His gift of faith, we can’t just rest on our laurels. And Paul makes that point several times as well, including in Philippians 3:14 (“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”) and 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever”) – even in just these two examples, we can see that Paul is urging us to continue striving, rather than just staying put.

Making a cushion with a Bible verse on it is probably not the best way of following Peter’s advice. That said, I hope it will prove useful when I need to be reminded of it. Especially when I’ve pushed it to the bottom of the agenda because of things that don’t really matter.

Friends and Fears

Yet I always stay close to you,
    and you hold me by the hand.” – Psalm 73:23

This past year has been so special. To be able to live and grow with four wonderful people has been such a privilege and blessing. I am definitely going to miss it. But I had a minor panic recently. It was about next year. Would I end up with friends? How hard is it to get to know people in a foreign country? Would I find a good Church? How easy would it be to get involved in the GBU (the French equivalent of CU)? Would I be able to make and develop the relationships that will sustain me throughout my time in France?

Knowing that God is faithful and has already blessed me with so many good friends should give me much more confidence about next year. But it’s all too easy to forget this and rely on my own strength rather than God.

I have a lot of very good, very close friends here at uni. And in the middle of my recent panic, I wondered exactly how I managed to end up with them. And then I came to my senses and realised: I have a great number of great friends, and it was nothing to do with me. And that’s hugely reassuring.

 

Song: O Praise The Name (Anástasis)

This choice might be surprising. My general preference for hymns and songs is that they are traditional. And most usually don’t have choruses. And most aren’t written by Hillsong.

To be fair, this song has a lot of what makes a good hymn or song. Words that speak of the Gospel. A song through which we can praise and worship God. A strong tune and harmony that is more interesting than many modern worship songs (*ducks*)

There are four verses. The first tells of Jesus’ death. The second of the dark days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The third is perhaps my favourite; after the darkness and pain of Jesus’ death, it tells of His glorious resurrection. It probably helps that the tune is transposed up in this verse, which just helps to add to the joy. The final verse hopes for Jesus’ return. And in between, a chorus of praise.

On reflection, I think this is a worship song I prefer to listen to. And I don’t mean to say I don’t enjoy singing it; I just think that whilst it’s an excellent song, I prefer singing other things. But I could listen to it on repeat for days, using it as a tool to worship God.

Trust, or, When Things Seem to Go Wrong

It was my housemate’s birthday on Friday. So on Saturday we decided to do Go Ape. (Go Ape is so much fun, in particular the zip lines at the end of each section. I would definitely recommend doing it, or similar).

Whilst there are about a thousand metaphors to take from having to trust simply ropes and carabiners to prevent a drop from up to 35m (at its highest point), this was actually not what I intended to write about.

In fact, in finishing the course, the need to trust got (unintentionally) much greater. There were only two buses that we could get back home, and the first was in about 20 minutes. There was no way we could possibly get that. The last bus was approximately two hours later. Plenty of time, right?

Not when you miss the path you were supposed to take, walk quite a way further down the road, convince yourselves you were a lot more on course than you actually were, and then find yourself lost in the middle of the countryside with very little in the way of internet connection or mobile signal.

To cut a long story short, we walked a lot further than we should have done (including over a barbed wire fence because we couldn’t face going back through the field to get back on track), got soaked through to the skin as it had been raining earlier, and missed the last bus home by quite a way.

Whilst we were walking we decided to stop and pray for a bit. This served multiple purposes. To collect our thoughts. To make sure we stayed joyful. To make sure we trusted God rather than a pathetic internet connection.

When we got phone signal we called people from Church and somebody came to pick us up. But it was quite difficult. None of us like to be needy. Especially not to the level of “there are 6 of us in the countryside about an hour away…”. And by that time we were all tired and soaking wet. We may or may not have been laughing hysterically at our predicament.

But through the whole evening there was an implicit trust that we could get home – be it that day or the next, be it by bus or by getting a lift.

I think my point here is: even in the little things, keep trusting. God is faithful. And whether things are going right, or you end up lost in the middle of nowhere, keep praying. Keep rejoicing. God is good.

Reasons to Praise God

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

Sometimes I find it really easy to praise God. Other times I just need a little reminder. So I decided to leave this as a reminder of why God is so amazing 🙂

  • He is compassionate
  • He is faithful
  • He is forgiving
  • He is generous
  • He is glorious
  • He is good
  • He is gracious
  • He is kind
  • He is loving
  • He is merciful
  • He is patient
  • He is powerful
  • He is unchanging

Whilst all of these are important reasons to praise God, at the moment I’m particularly remembering the last one. As I write votes are being counted in the UK General Election. With Brexit talks due to start in a matter of days, the real possibility of a hung parliament or a “coalition of chaos” headed by the person who described herself as “strong and stable” – an exit poll that shows the cat well and truly among the pigeons…

It’s great to be able to praise a God who is constant through everything that goes on. Whilst I pray for the best result for the country and for the world, I should also remember to praise God for everything He is and everything He has done, including His steadfast love and faithfulness, how His hand has guided us up until now, and that we can count on His continued and constant grace and mercy.

Hymns: At the Name of Jesus

“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11

Let’s just say I’m in a particularly good mood right now. The paperwork I’ve been stressing about and worrying about for the past month or so is finally on its way to France. I’ve got one exam left, in a week’s time. The weather is fantastic. (Maybe even a little too warm…). At times like this it’s really easy to see God and praise Him for His goodness.

This hymn is lovely. Lively and upbeat, and summarising creation, Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension. And then giving hope and encouragement, particularly when things are harder. It’s not always easy to praise God, although it’s something that I try to remind myself to do.

This hymn summarises exactly why I do that. Why I remind myself to praise God. Why I praise God in the first place. I love a hymn with a long list of scripture references. And so many are from the Gospels, or from Paul’s encouraging letters. The opening line comes from Philippians. Side note, we studied Philippians in CU last term. And I really loved studying it. Put simply, Paul and the Philippians are #cugoals

Anyway. We have such a hope in Jesus, and it’s so great to be able to praise Him with such a joyful, uplifting hymn that captures this hope so well.