Thoughts on Spirituality

"Wellness of the Soul"

Based on the hymn “It is well with my soul” by Horatio Spafford

We live in a time when “wellness” is a buzzword. Wellness of body, wellness of mind, wellness in our emotions, wellness in our finances, relationships, almost any area of life is addressed by whether or not we are “well” in that regard. As Christians, it is the constant daily judgment call as to whether we are walking in each of these areas according to God’s will and direction, whether we are allowing Christ to dwell in us fully so that every one of these areas is under His control and producing the fruit that He desires in us. (Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…”) Obviously the best outcome would be that every single area of our lives as Believers are indeed governed by His loving grace and His holy standards of righteousness so that we daily learn to walk with Him more fully and become conformed to the image of Jesus. Under those circumstances, we would say that all of those areas are “well”, that they are just as they should be, and that we can be content with how our lives are progressing.

But if we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we are seldom in such a state that every area of our lives is indeed in such a state of wellness. Oh, we might be generally at peace, or for the most part functioning without serious turmoil or trauma…but to say that we are completely well in every area would be a reach. Horatio Spafford knew what this was like. Mr. Spafford lost his home and his considerable business holdings during the Chicago fire of 1871, and had set about making plans to rebuild his business and home. In 1873, he sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him on a ship bound for England, with the plan to follow them a short time later. On November 22, 1873, the ship that Mrs. Spafford and the girls traveled on sank at sea, and of the family only Mrs. Spafford survived…all four of the daughters drowned. While traveling to England to meet his bereaved wife, Horatio Spafford penned the words to the well-known hymn, “It is well with my soul”. But let’s back up for a second. This man had just suffered loss on nearly every side. He was, by all standards, NOT in a state of “wellness”! He was in deep grief over losing his only four children, he had lost his home by fire, he was re-building his business, he was under immense emotional stress, probably lacking sleep and, like most people experiencing grief and hardship, not eating quite normally. All of these things add up to one very “NOT-well” individual…and yet he wrote “It is well with my soul”.

Do we see the point here? He didn’t lie to himself and say it was well with everything in the world, while he was going through tragedy after tragedy. He didn’t suggest that his unfathomable losses were of little consequence or that they were minor setbacks rather than major hardships. He recognized the situation for the painful challenge that it was, yet in the midst of it he said it was well with his SOUL. He lost his home. His business. His livelihood. His children. Possibly his physical health. And yet he said that it was well with his soul.

We do not always live in the midst of peace. Our world is rife with discord. Troubles abound; wars rage; sickness ravages with no regard for the young or old, the good or the evil; crime is rampant; natural disasters occur without warning, and we as Believers in Jesus often look upward and wonder when will there be relief from the hardships that life throws at us? At such times it makes sense that we would struggle. Definitely, when troubles come we do not see peace in our surroundings. This makes sense. But what about when we ARE at peace? What about those times when life seems to be rolling along like a song and we really don’t have much to be upset about? Either way, it is well. But not because of any momentary lack of struggle or strife in our lives. Jesus said in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” It may or may not be well with the peace of the world, but it is well with our soul in the midst of whatever peace we live within…or without.

I said my final goodbye to my Dad on December 13th, 1997. I felt like someone had cut off both of my legs, I was so lost after his passing. Never did I know such extreme grief until the loss of our six month old son. Again, my grief was so overwhelming that at times I feared I would suffocate under the sheer weight of it…and at other times I wished I would. The loss was so intense that I couldn’t see how life could ever be right again. Oh, I knew life would “go on”, but deep in my heart I believed that nothing in my world would ever again be beautiful and bright and lovely…my pain blinded me to any hope of goodness , or to the love of a gracious God who was carrying me through every moment of that grievous time. I had always said, “I can handle just about any trial that comes my way, I could trust God and bear up under whatever hardship comes, as long as nothing ever happens to one of my children. Losing a child would do me in.” Now suddenly I was in the midst of the greatest pain and deepest fear I had ever considered, and I was lost. Ask anyone who knew me at that time, I was definitely not well. I was an emotional train wreck. I wasn’t eating, I couldn’t sleep, my ability to focus on even small tasks was severely compromised. I was forgetful and depressed. I fled every church service I tried to attend because even the mention of a baby or the sound of an infant in the congregation would reduce me to tearful sobbing. I was utterly broken. Horatio Spafford would have understood perfectly. I can imagine that he would have sat quietly, tears likely spilling down his own face, taken our hands and said something like “Let us pray together, for my heart knows the very same pain that yours does.” Sorrow. Grief. Suffering. Loss. They rip our hearts out and cause us to feel decidedly NOT well. And yet…”it is well with my SOUL”, Horatio Spafford said. Paul said in Philippians 4:12-13 “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” My emotions may flail about searching for relief, my mind may cry out for the blessedness of sleep to restore strength and clarity of thought, my body may ache with fatigue and tension, my heart continue to beat even though I cannot see how it possibly can wracked as it is with spasms of pain…yet my SOUL lives outside of these realms where pain attacks. My soul is with Christ in Heavenly places, and His Spirit lives in the deepest recesses of my heart no matter how heavy that heart may feel to me. Christ in me…”the hope of glory”, Paul wrote to the Colossians (1:27). Me in Christ…the safety and assurance of my place in the Father’s house! Paul reminded the Ephesians (2:6) that our Father loved us so much, even when we were lost and dead in sin, that He saved us through His grace “and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”. That is the TRUTH: no matter what sorrow befalls me, no matter how severe or how devastating any grief may be…it is well with my SOUL.

Satan asked the Lord to allow him to sift Peter like wheat. Now, I grew up in farmland and I know what wheat sifting looks like. I don’t entertain even the slightest notion that it is something I would want to have done to ME! Stripping the chaff, tossing the wheat kernels in order to free them of any debris, passing them through the machines designed to remove everything that is not supposed to be there and leave only the clean grains…can we see the picture here? Satan asked to do all of that to Peter. He asked to be allowed to take Peter through the wringer. To strip away his outer shell, the walls around himself that kept Peter safe from the external confrontations the world might bring. To toss him, mix him up, spin him around, pour him out again, throw him into the air, and ultimately lay him quietly in the cool darkness. Jesus didn’t tell Peter, “Hey, but don’t worry, I would never let that old bugger get a hold of you,” or “Now don’t fret, this won’t hurt a bit”.

Jesus told Peter that He had PRAYED for him. Now, tell me Peter didn’t shake in his sandals at hearing THAT! Jesus the Messiah, having walked on water, healed who knows how many sick people, raised more than one person from the dead, calmed a storm with nothing more than a verbal command…He told Peter, “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32). In other words, Jesus had no intention of stopping Satan from doing exactly what he had asked to do…he would be permitted to sift Peter. Jesus knew that all that would preserve Peter would be the power of God Himself, and so He prayed for His disciple. He trusted His Father yet again to handle things as He saw fit, knowing that His way was always the best way, that He loved Peter more than anyone else ever could, and that the very best that He could do was to place Peter firmly into His Father’s loving hands. Peter was held in those mighty hands through every trial he ever faced, right up through his own crucifixion upside-down…he was never out of the Father’s powerful grasp. Satan sifted him, all right. Pulverized him. Beat him, taunted him, stole his sleep, tormented his mind and dealt out agony to his flesh. But again the TRUTH…it was well with Peter’s SOUL, even as he hung dying, crucified for his faith. Satan DOES attack. He does “buffet” us, as a storm blowing against a mountainside or a gust of freezing rain lashing at a rock face. He throws every negative thing at us that he can, seeking to destroy us to our very core. Don’t ever think that the devil is just a little red guy with horns and a pitchfork, running around poking at us on occasion and trying to get us to make little mistakes. He is no such little thing. He does not seek to bother or bug us, to just annoy us with his frustrating antics. No. Please remember that Satan was once an angel in the Heavenlies, acquainted with the greatness of God and well-versed in the many ways that God’s creation can be damaged, scarred, and ultimately destroyed. THAT is what he wants to do. Peter himself taught that “the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”, and that we must “resist him, steadfast in the faith…” (1Peter 5:8,9). We may not find ourselves crucified upside-down like Peter was, but we do face attacks of various kinds. Perhaps God will allow Satan to inflict us with an illness, bring about an injury, send discouragement or turmoil or some other hardship our way, not because He doesn’t love us but because those trials draw us closer to Him as we look to Him as our source of all comfort. He knows what we are made of and where our strength comes from, (“For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14) but do we? Do we see our weaknesses? The places where we need to give more attention to God’s designs and more effort to seek out His plans for us? Do we rest fully in His care without trying to manipulate things our own way? Even if we think we do all those things just right, God may exercise His right, in His good judgment and as a loving Father, to allow Satan to sift us like wheat just as he did Peter. If that happens – WHEN that happens – can we see that even when Satan buffets, even when we are under direct attack, it is well…with our SOUL? Or even when trials come that have nothing to do with a demonic attack, but are just part of daily life here on this big blue ball hurtling through space. Sometimes we can’t tell which it is, the hand of Satan, or just ordinary human struggle. When the law of gravity comes into play and we simply fall. Even THEN, it is well with my soul.

By now some folks might be thinking, “Yeah, that’s great to SAY, but when the chips are down and the buffalo’s empty, how in the world are we supposed to make that REAL? How do we actually make that a TRUTH and not just a platitude in our lives?” It is not up to us to do anything at all except for one thing, and that is to realize that we can do nothing at all. Sound like circular reasoning? Follow Horatio Spafford into the third verse of his hymn: “For Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has shed His own blood for my soul”! Hear me now. It is not up to us to “make anything well”. Did you hear me? Let me say it again: “IT IS NOT UP TO US TO MAKE ANYTHING WELL”. It is not up to me to make my soul well, it is up to the Father who keeps my soul safe to keep it well. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that I have no responsibility to seek God, to follow His Word, to look to Jesus as my example, etc. Of course those are all things that we as Believers should always be doing. But even so, those things do not now, nor did they ever, earn our salvation or buy God’s grace like a cheap reward for following the rules. In our state of sin we were helpless to save ourselves. In our state of salvation, we are helpless to preserve ourselves. God’s grace alone draws us to Himself, plants faith in our hearts to believe His promises, and extends mercy through the shed blood of His Son who gave His own life in order to restore us to fellowship with the Father. Jude verse 24 speaks of “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…”. God is able to keep safe what He has placed in us, namely His own Spirit. But you might say, “Yes, but then what if the Father chooses NOT to draw us to Himself?? How fair and loving is THAT? We would have no choice, we couldn’t come to Him no matter what! We would be lost through no fault of our own!” But that would not be true. God desires that all men come to repentance and to know and love Him as their Father (2Peter 3:9). He acts accordingly, by His wisdom and boundless love for mankind as His treasured creation. There is no unfairness in God, no sarcasm, no desire to trick us. It is not up to us to make anything happen, but it IS up to us to respond when the Spirit of God calls us to turn to Him. Christ regards us in our helpless estate. God sees our frame and He knows that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). He strengthens us according to His own Word, which is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). HE does the work…all we have to do is accept it and walk in it. Accept. Walk. Accept more. Keep walking. Keep accepting. Keep walking.

But sometimes we still think we need more to go on. We are, after all, rational, intelligent human beings who demand answers to questions and would like reasons for the things we are supposed to do. We deserve answers, don’t we? Well…no, not really. Just ask Job. God is not obligated to tell us anything, but I think He had fun revealing the end of His plan to John in the solitude of Patmos just so we could one day read “the rest of the story”. How this all wraps up is no mystery. There is no need to sit in puzzlement, because God told us what was going to happen and what to expect as the end of history unfolds. Why do we have hope? How can we possibly hold on when we are at our wit’s end and we see nothing good coming our way? Horatio Spafford must have asked some of these very same questions in some moments, but he knew where to look for the answers. He knew the rest of the story. He knew that God did not leave us in the dark, asking us to blindly trust Him or to just assume that everything would somehow work out. No, Horatio read the Book and received strength to carry him through. “Oh Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll”, he wrote. There was no question that the day would come, just a plea for it to come quickly! Roll those clouds back, Lord, and please don’t wait very long! “The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend…”. Okay…the clouds roll back, trumpets heard everywhere, and down comes the Lord Himself! Isaiah, during his vision of God’s throne, fell on his face and cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts”(Isaiah 6:5)…and yet God’s people will see Jesus coming in the clouds and rejoice at His coming! No “woe is me”, but “Yes! Come, Lord Jesus!” THAT is the hope! Face-to-face fellowship, seeing Him in His glory and being able to marvel at His appearance! Being completely restored, no broken bonds, nothing left undone or incomplete, no pain, no sorrow, no more being sifted like wheat! It’s DONE! Here He comes, I’m in the family, let’s go! THAT is the hope He holds out to us. THAT is why we can say “It is well with my soul” in the midst of all these other things that WILL happen until He appears.

“It is well with my Soul”   by Horatio Spafford, 1873

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.

Our Vision…Our Victory
Based on the 6th century Celtic poem, translated into English verse in 1912 as the hymn “Be Thou My Vision”

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for my fight; Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower: Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

It is hard to know sometimes what the author of a string of melodious words actually meant to convey, unless they are able to tell us themselves. The hymn commonly known as “Be Thou My Vision” was not originally written in its current form, but began as a Celtic poem somewhere around the 6th century and was translated from Old Irish into English by Mary E. Byrne in 1905. It was reorganized into verses in 1912 by Eleanor H. Hull. To both of these women we owe a great debt for bringing such a beautiful piece of music to life for English-speaking people to enjoy. The melody is the Irish folk song  Slane, which is about Slane Hill where  St. Patrick  lit candles on Easter Eve in A.D. 433, defying the prohibition against this custom by then High King Loegaire of Tara. But hymns very often have a deeper purpose. Perhaps it is to convey a message of love or conviction, or to give voice to a heartfelt cry of pain or exultation of joy. Some hymns express adoration of our amazing God, while still others give account of His endless devotion to His people. We cannot ask the author of the words to this particular hymn exactly what he or she longed to share, but if we look closely at the modern verses there is blessing for us in every line.

Vision is a highly prized commodity. The expression “I would have given you my eyes” stems from a centuries old tradition wherein a person expressed the depth of their love to another person by saying that they would even give them their eyes if it were necessary…in other words, “I would choose to be blind in order that this person whom I love would be able to see.” This hymn begins with the cry for God to be our vision itself. Jesus taught that the eye is the lamp of the body, and that if the eye was bad, the whole body would be full of darkness, but that if the eye was good, the whole body would be full of light (Matt. 6:22,23). And here we are now, asking God to actually be our vision. Above all other things, above all other ideas, priorities, attitudes, or agendas, we ask God to be the lens through which everything that we see comes to us.
The danger in viewing all things through God this way is that we will see things as He does.  The things that cause Him joy and happiness will make us happy…and the things that cause Him pain will hurt us, too. 
We will be allowed to glimpse the beauty of a pure heart and unselfish love…and we will also be permitted to view the destruction of a human soul by the ravages of sin. We will see the homeless with a heart of compassion rather than judgment, and we will become intolerant of sinful actions that hurt innocent children and the weakest of our neighbors. In all of this, our eyes will become true windows into our own souls through which God can pour His light in order to dispel the darkness around us and inside of us.

When I was a little girl, I was terribly afraid of the dark. I just knew there was a boogeyman under my bed, a monster in my closet, horrible little scary guys camped out in the dresser drawers, and probably even more shadowy hoodlums creeping around just outside my bedroom window…waiting for their opportunity to pounce. My Daddy went to great lengths to convince me that there were no goblins or ghouls waiting for me, but to no avail...I hated the dark, and that was that. But the truth is, it wasn’t the darkness itself that I was so afraid of, it was the scary creatures I believed were hiding in the dark that made my heart pound. The only reason that turning on a light erased my fear was because I could clearly see that there was, as my Daddy had told me, not a single monster lying in wait. But as soon as the light went out, those shadows became menacing hiding places once again and nothing would convince me otherwise. The solution cost about a quarter back in those days: it’s called a night light. You see, what my Dad realized was that his little girl didn’t need hours of lecturing about the fact that monsters don’t exist, or scientific proof that boogeymen are just made up stories. I didn’t need him to do a “scary critter patrol” every hour, checking for creepy creatures outside. I just needed a little bit of light to push the darkness back.

Lighting up a dark room obliterates the hiding places. But remember, the monsters and boogeymen aren’t real anyway, right? Wrong. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us “…your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour’. We are warned about the darkness. 1 John 1:5 tells us that “…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all”. Obviously there is something we need to know about the dark: there is nothing of it in our God! The demonic host loves the dark for one main reason, and that is that only in darkness can it be claimed that God is absent…and the legions of hell stay as far from the Almighty as possible. Darkness is their playground, where they taunt, torment and torture; where they hide away from the brightness that exposes their vileness. In the presence of God there can be no such darkness, nowhere to hide…for the enemies outside or inside of ourselves. The harassing forces of Satan are exposed by the glare of the presence of Christ, as are the more attractively dressed minions that we invite to stay as our guests. Corrie Ten Boom said, concerning her concentration camp experience at the hand of the Nazis: "In darkness God's truth shines most clear." But just as Jacob refused to let go without a blessing when He wrestled with God in Genesis 32:22-32, we dare not sit passively, wondering when this heavenly illumination will pool around us and bring understanding and clarity to our souls! Like Jacob, we must tenaciously grasp the blessing, not fainting with fatigue, wrestling through the night until the break of a new morning sun if necessary, to see the darkness dispelled and our vision sharpened with the light of the Spirit’s dawn.

Regardless of sunrise and sunset, whether the portion of the earth we inhabit is currently bathed in sun or in shadows, when we are asleep and when we are awake, we are in His light. He is near to us, around us, inside of our very souls, always keeping watch and guarding every breath of His loved ones. As the Psalmist wrote, “…He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). He does not grow tired, His vision never fails, and the light of His presence vanquishes all that lurks in the darkness.

Now that we understand God’s presence in light, our hearts and minds seek a deeper intimacy with God, a closer walk as our feeble legs try to match His stride. As we address the endless challenges that come our way along the avenues of life, we grasp at wisdom to guide our decisions. Once again, our need is met by the God who not only gives us wisdom, but who IS our wisdom from the very beginning. The hymn expresses our need as human beings for God to come in and be our Truth in an unstable world where values shift and consequences of poor judgment can be dire. This is not a request for a new set of rules, or even a more thorough explanation of the old ones. Instead, it is an acknowledgement that the Giver of the gifts of wisdom and truth are indeed the embodiment of each. We need not be governed by ink on paper or the threat of punishment for failing to maintain a standard. Rather, our very souls can become intimately connected with Wisdom and Truth Himself just as a father and son share many of the same genes. It is in this sense that we can say with Paul, “…for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28a)

It is often said that “Christ lives in us”, or “God is in my life”. But how often do we address the matter of us being in Him? Or do we overlook the fact that just as God lives in us, we too are meant to reside completely in Him? Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians (1:17), “…He is before all things, and in Him all things consist”. Are human beings somehow exempt from “all things”? We too, are part of the “all things” that consist in Him…which is why we are so utterly lost when we separate ourselves from Him. It would be like expecting a huge bucket of water to contain itself if we take the bucket away. The instant the bucket is removed, the water spills in every direction, out of control. The bucket held the water where it was supposed to be…without it, the water loses even its most basic form and becomes an ineffectual mess, soon evaporating into the thin air.

Paul goes on to say to the Colossians, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (3:3) Our lives are safe with Him, held firmly in His grasp and under His protection. “Thou my great Father, I Thy true son…”, the hymn rolls on. In sixth century Ireland, the issue of sonship to a father was no small matter. Land was passed through families primarily through the male heirs, and genealogies were carefully kept in order for families to remember their roots. Both father and son were unmistakable gifts in a time when disease and hardship often claimed the lives of either or both long before “goodbye” was a welcome word. Not only is God our Father, He is our very great Father…and not only are we His sons, but  true sons whose status in the family cannot be denied or challenged by any outsider. Not only are there responsibilities on the part of both, but also the blessings that come with being a true heir to a loving and gracious Father who withholds no good thing from His children.

Volumes have been written concerning Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian church to “put on the whole armor of God” (6:13-18). But again, the setting of the hymn’s writing should give us pause to seek out the writer’s intent…sixth century Ireland was far different than the world in which most of us live today. Talk of swords, battle shields, and high towers all seem to belong more in movies about knights and kings in some far away land shrouded in mist, long ago and nearly forgotten. Not so to the inhabitants of Ireland in this time period. Kings came to power by use of force and size of army, political treachery abounded (In 378A.D., after ruling as king for thirteen years, Crimhthann was poisoned by his own sister!), and the common folk often defended their lands and their families by whatever means necessary. Imploring God Himself to be their battle shield, their sword, and the high tower to which they could run for safety meant much more than poetic words, it was a cry for true deliverance and protection. Oh that we could catch a glimpse of that faith…that we could nurture within ourselves a heart so devoted to our Creator that  we too would “…be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6.13.b)

Part of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is that our Father “give us this day our daily bread”.  Simplicity of heart searches for sustenance in things that are required, and beauty in all that surrounds us. Riches that spoil, praise from the lips of other frail earthly men, inheritances that can be stolen or lost by thief or years…though given to us to enjoy for a time, none of these are to gain a place of reverence on the altar of our hearts. Like our own breath, all of these will one day fade from memory, returning to the hand of the One who bestowed them.  First in our hearts always should be the gracious Creator who infused us with His own breath, allowing us to live and love, and learn how to live and love more. In the middle of the 4th century, the three nephews of the High King of Ireland established a new kingdom until they themselves were conquered and rule passed to yet another king. In spite of this history, our hymn writer refers to our own true High King of Heaven as the real treasure to be sought. Earthly kings come and go, territories rise and fall, the very earth we walk on groans under the weight of bloodshed spilled in the name of war…and peace. Yet the Ruler of all never changes…never weakens…is never conquered. In His blood lies our victory, and in His heart lies our own pulse. The joys of Heaven welcome us only because His heart beats within our chest…and ours in His.

At the close of this glorious hymn are the words. “…still be my vision, O Ruler of all”. The beginning of the hymn is the same, the verses roll by, and at the end is the same cry for God Himself to be the eyes through which we view His world. We are left with the notion that this is, above all other points or requests, the most important thing the writer wished to convey, the need to see through God’s own eyes. Remember, the original text was not written in the verses we know today, but was translated first into English and then written into verse only in the last century. The original English translation  follows… as His people, let it be our heart’s cry.

English Translationby Mary Byrne, 1905

Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart
None other is aught but the King of the seven heavens.

Be thou my meditation by day and night.
May it be thou that I behold even in my sleep.

Be thou my speech, be thou my understanding.
Be thou with me, be I with thee

Be thou my father, be I thy son.
Mayst thou be mine, may I be thine.

Be thou my battle-shield, be thou my sword.
Be thou my dignity, be thou my delight.

Be thou my shelter, be thou my stronghold.
Mayst thou raise me up to the company of the angels.

Be thou every good to my body and soul.
Be thou my kingdom in heaven and on earth.

Be thou solely chief love of my heart.
Let there be none other, O high King of Heaven.

Till I am able to pass into thy hands,
My treasure, my beloved through the greatness of thy love

Be thou alone my noble and wondrous estate.
I seek not men nor lifeless wealth.

Be thou the constant guardian of every possession and every life.
For our corrupt desires are dead at the mere sight of thee.

Thy love in my soul and in my heart --
Grant this to me, O King of the seven heavens.

O King of the seven heavens grant me this --
Thy love to be in my heart and in my soul.

With the King of all, with him after victory won by piety,
May I be in the kingdom of heaven O brightness of the son.

Beloved Father, hear, hear my lamentations.
Timely is the cry of woe of this miserable wretch.

O heart of my heart, whatever befall me,
O ruler of all, be thou my vision.

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