For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.
I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
We’ve all been there. It’s sad when it’s a friendship; tragic in a marriage. Interest wanes. Character flaws that we never saw before, become pesky annoyances. We were passionately in love or felt so very close, and now we are indifferent at best. We talked all the time and now we can’t think of anything to say. We planned things; now it’s too much trouble. It didn’t happen all at once. It happened slowly and subtly. All because of one thing. One or both of the partners failed to expend the time and effort required in keeping the relationship alive. It most likely wasn’t intentional, malicious or spiteful. It was a gradual death through neglect.
I recently heard a beautiful arrangement of an old hymn that I didn’t know well. When I looked up the lyrics, I was convicted by the words and curious to learn about the story behind it.
William Dunn Longstaff was not a music minister, or pastor, or Christian worker; and yet his words live after him in hymnbooks everywhere. Longstaff was a dedicated English businessman, the son of a successful ship owner. He was generous with his resources, and thus, was influential in evangelical circles. He befriended the great William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army; and when the financial sponsor of one of D. L. Moody’s British campaigns died, Longstaff came to the rescue and became well acquainted with both Moody, as well as Ira Sankey, his song leader.
“Be ye holy, for I am holy,” was the text of a sermon by Griffith John, missionary to China, given at Keswick, which greatly impacted Longstaff. He mulled over the truth he had heard, went home and wrote a poem. His practical mind listed some ways that Christians could live holy. His poem was published in the Salvation Army’s paper, War Cry. Longthoughts staff showed his poem to Ira Sankey, Moody’s song leader, who passed it on to his friend George Stebbins, the Christian musician. Stebbins took the poem and filed it away. At some later point, he needed a song on the subject of holiness; remembered the little poem, pulled it out and added musicto it. Stebbins sent the new song to a publisher, who included it in the hymnal, New Songs and Sacred Solos, in 1888. It has been included in hymnals since.
Holiness is not some state of super-sanctity reserved for older saints. Its not only the name of a church or lifestyle. It is not even just the moment of full consecration. It is a life to be lived out. Mistakes are made, and corrected. In a relationship as real as any human one, love is communicated, and we, as the Bride, learn how to more fully please the Bridegroom. Unfortunately, people in churches that emphasize holiness doctrine sometimes have the tendency to become comfortable with two trips to the altar, and then settle back with “blessed assurance,” in our own unique brand of eternal security. True holiness is an increasing state of Christlikeness. It is dynamic. It involves change; even suffering. Refining is a grueling process at times. And all of this takes time together with the Holy One. It is so easy to be influenced by the world’s philosophy, which encourages us to do everything the easy way. That’s why there is so little emphasis on holy living in the greater church world. Discipline is not fun or popular. Even those of us who recognize that we will have to fight for our connection with God, still face the incredible outward pressures of busy schedules and endless activity; as well as the inward tensions, fighting those quiet battles in the mind. Yet, those who would be holy must develop some habits that nourish the most important relationship of our lives.
Its not new information that relationships take work, including our relationship with the Lord. But we all need times of evaluating what our lives really look like. The smallest things can become idols. May you be as challenged by Longstaff’s words as I was, and may this spring offer a new opportunity to order our lives to truly reflect our priorities.
1.Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide with Him always and feed on His Word.
Make friends with God’s children, Help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
2. Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be:
Thy friends in thy conduct, His likeness shall see.
(article by TLC writer Christina Black which appears in the
summer issue of TLC)
to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take
my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and
you will find rest for your souls. For
my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Sometimes life makes us tired. Very
tired. And in those moments we are possibly tired in body, mind, or spirit. We
get tired of coming up with a new way to do things, and we get tired of trying
to earn the praise of those around us. If we ever get brave enough to say
anything, people look at us like- you are tired? What? You professors only
teach 15 hours a week! You are just a pastor’s wife! You stay at home! Why
would YOU be tired? And on it goes. Or they say: So fix it- you get to make your own schedule
half the time, and that may be true or not… however, people don’t always
If your mind is tired, it affects both
how you think and how you feel. You will notice it in the following ways: You
will lose initiative and it gets difficult to do anything you don’t absolutely
HAVE to do. You may even get tired of learning. The very mention of a teachers’
meeting, ministry conference, ladies retreat, or other, may make you want to
roll your eyes. If your body is tired you will feel aches and pains, and find
it difficult to go to sleep or wake up. If your spirit is tired you may find
yourself avoiding worship, friends, Bible study, and even prayer.
Some things I have tried that do help
when I am tired in mind, body, and or spirit are to:
Try to take a day each week to get away from all things ministry or work
Be nice to yourself. Quit expecting the unrealistic.
Pick a moment when the light goes off at night- whether you want to go to sleep
Eat something that is good for you.
Take a daily vitamin.
Sell a hat. [Sometimes we just need to quit doing quite so much] “There is a
time for everything, but maybe not all at the same time.”
Go for a walk.
Put some routines in place.
Follow directions. Read three times and just do it once.
Stop eating sugar before bed.
Remember you have nothing to prove.
Remind yourself that it is ok to rest or do something fun.
Listen to a song.
Watch the coffee
Control your mind. [Resist thoughts such
as “No one appreciates all I do.” and ”I am all alone in this.”]
Talk to God honestly.
Pray the serenity prayer.
As the busy, busy recent days of
finishing a doctorate, keeping up all the work related to the education
department of HSBC going, and managing a home and family, have flown by, I have
often thought I could not take another step. But I learned that these 20 tips
really do help. Ladies, I suggest you try them- consistently.
What a difference it makes when you
decide what you can change and what you can’t, when you feel better, rest your
mind or heart, when you get some sleep, when you allow yourself to call or text
a friend and just chat, or slow down a little.
the coming summer days, I will close my final school year as Ed Chair for HSBC,
pack our way out of our offices, pack up our personal belongings, leave the
only home we have ever owned, get in a rental car for deputation services, and
again head overseas for the second time this fall. When the stress of a big
change or job hits you, it is good to have some tips on hand. You can be as
surrendered as possible in your soul, but it does not make the details any
easier. The dirt behind the couch still needs cleaned, the files still need
sorted, the boxes are still heavy, and the suitcases need packed. But if you
try to handle it all in your own strength, you will falter or fail. Remember,
it is His burden and He has promised to keep it light. But we need to cooperate
I sat today and listened to a professional explain something
that had the potential of being rather complicated and overwhelming. I watched her brain working in her eyes as
she analyzed her student and immediately simplified her material down to the
basics. As the conversation progressed,
she continued to re-explain, re-evaluate and re-simplify. Over and over. And she did it with patience and kindness and
a sense of understanding and humor.
By the time she was finished she had truly done her
job. Through her simple instruction,
she had made exciting change not only possible, but manageable. She could have done what I have seen many
others do (and have done myself). She
could have overwhelmed her listener with layer after layer of excellent information. She could have lectured and layered and
lectured some more. And she would have
left the listener tired and overwhelmed and unmotivated. But she didn’t. She chose to leave out what she and I both
knew was incredibly valuable information.
Because it was just too much. She
chose instead to teach the basics.
She had given the gift of simplicity.
It was refreshing to me.
And reminded me of the power and patience of simplicity. It can
be applied in just about every area of life.
As moms, we have to learn what our littles can handle. You might assign your 4-year-old to cleaning
out the entire fridge. But if your
4-year-old is anything like mine, that would be a dire mistake. There would be disaster to pay.
As wives, we discover that sometimes brilliant men need to
be given very simple instruction. Very.
Slowly. One. Item. At. A. Time. In one of those crazy, miraculous moments
when my husband asks me “what can I do to help?” I have been known to ramble on with excited purpose: “Awesome!
Thanks! Okay…this bag goes to the
car for goodwill. This box goes into
storage. These 3 things go to the
kitchen…” and so forth. But I look up mid-sentence and he’s gone. Vanished….. With just the first item. ONE thing in his hand! I mean, seriously? The man has a PhD and he can only handle one
put-away task at a time? It has been one
of the great marriage mysteries of my life.
But it has taught me to simplify.
As a homekeeper, I am constantly learning to simplify. Less is more.
Finish only the task at hand.
Improve one layer at a time instead of trying to overhaul the entire
universe before supper. Yeah. About that…. Still learning.
As a teacher I must sort through the things I have learned
in over 30 years of being a musician and choose to give my students only what
they need in that particular lesson. I
certainly don’t do it perfectly. But the
older I get, the more I value simplicity.
Isn’t it exciting how God understands my frame and applies
simplicity perfectly to the lessons He teaches me? He knows how to boil things down to my
level. When He has a lesson for me, many
times He sends the message through multiple methods. I will hear it in a song, in a sermon, in a
book I’m reading, from a friend. And by
the time Abba is done with me, His perfectly filtered, powerfully simple
message settles in and becomes part of my heart as Light and Truth and Love.
I am going through one of those longish, hardish struggles
that make me want to cry out to God…”whatever this lesson is, Lord, please help
me to GET IT so we can move on!” I am
remembering tonight that He is teaching me layer upon layer. And He knows how to simplify complicated
lessons. And that takes time. I am not a natural at this whole simplicity
thing. I can complicate anything. But no one is as patient as Him. And He knows my heart like no other. So perhaps, just maybe, I need to stop trying to conquer the world
before supper and relax into His beautiful simplicity.
“As you simplify your
life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude,
poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” ― Henry David Thoreau