Friday, September 08, 2006

Lord of All Wholeness

For the first Sunday in a while, I sang the hymn "Lord of all Hopefulness" in church on Sunday. Singing this song was a startling reminder of God‘s absoluteness. His holiness is not smeared by human imperfection or darkened by the "relativism" that shrouds post-modern culture. He's absolute hope, absolute truth, absolute joy, absolute comfort---he is absolute everything!

Oddly enough, there are times when I read the stories of persecuted believers and need to be reminded that God is, in fact, the Lord of all. This is not because the stories contain elements of suffering and evil---actually, it's quite the opposite. When I read these remarkable stories of believers who suffer for Christ with a seemingly infallible sense of joy, trust and peace, I can almost convince myself that these believers encapsulate the of our Christian hope. It is tempting to glorify them in an almost god-like way or believe that these stories, themselves, will single-handedly strengthen someone's hope in times of trial.

But even the most faithful of believers are only pieces of God's whole hope. Even they cannot communicate or even understand God in His entirety. Persecuted believers are vital pockets of light along an often dark path, but they are not the source of the "light" itself. Thus, they are not solely the providers of hope but they are first and foremost the recipients of it. They, like all Christians, have hope because it was first given to them and they are faithful to God because he was first faithful to them.

Hymns such as "Lord of our Hopefulness" remind us that God is not just part of the "goodness" in this sinful, pain-filled world from surrendering to despair; he's all of it. His wholeness is why we can safely entrust all things to Him instead of giving all over to our fellow men, even our most faithful of fellow believers.

If we proclaim the Lord as absolute, we receive a reward that is richer than the mere "feeling" of hope, such as optimism, happiness and pleasure. These emotions are mere manifestations---fragments of a much greater whole. I don't think that God wants us to settle for these fragments. He calls on us to strive for the "whole" or the "all." And even if this wholeness isn't attainable on earth, God invites us to rest in the knowledge that, in Him, all is complete. Our comfort, then, comes in receiving this supreme, unfathomable gift of hopefulness that is rooted in holiness.

I'll just leave off now with the words to "Lord of All Hopefulness," because I think it is a poetic, prayer-like hymn that articulates the yearning for fullness and hopefulness better than anything else I could write:

Lord of all hopefulness,
Lord of all joy
whose trust, ever child-like,
no cares could destroy,
be there at our waking,
and give us, we pray,
your bliss in our hearts, Lord,
at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness,
Lord of all faith,
whose strong hands were skilled
at the plane and the lathe,
be there at our labours,
and give us, we pray,
your strength in our hearts, Lord,
at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness,
Lord of all grace,
your hands swift to welcome,
your arms to embrace,
be there at our homing,
and give us, we pray,
your love in our hearts, Lord
at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness,
Lord of all calm,
whose voice is contentment,
whose presence is balm,
be there at our sleeping,
and give us, we pray,
your peace in our hearts, Lord
at the end of the day.

Words: Jan Struther (pseudonym of Joyce Anstruther Graham Plaszek, 1901-1953)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing that song! It's been good to read and think about...