Sunday, October 26, 2008

Unrest and arrogant pride

We sang one of my favorite hymns in church this morning. Our hymnal lists it as "Out of my Bondage, Sorrow, and Night," but you can find it on itunes as "Jesus, I Come." As we sang, I was struck by the lyrics in the first line of the third verse. (Here's the entire song.)

Out of my bondage sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thy-self
Jesus I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus I come, Jesus I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of earth's sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life's storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on the wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy home,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

You'll notice a pattern in which the conditions listed in the first line of each stanza have a logical connection to one another. Verse one: sorrow, bondage, and night. Verse two: shameful failure and loss. Verse four: fear and dread of the tomb. It's easy to see how the things in each stanza relate to one another. But, in verse three, the writer juxtaposes unrest and arrogant pride.

And so today I found myself pondering the connection was between unrest and pride. We have, of course, all experienced unrest in our lives to some degree or another: worry about finances, dissatisfaction in a job, wishing for more (or fewer, lol) children, the longing for a bigger house, a better car, better health . . . different circumstances. These can all be summed up in one thought: "There is something I'm missing." Isn't that what unrest is? The feeling that there is something else out there to have, to do, to be . . . a discontentment with what we have or where we are or who we are right now. I think the writer of this hymn got it right. Consider these feelings of discontentment and unrest in light of what what we read in scripture:

  • Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. Ps 116:7
  • 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.. Matt 11:29
  • Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11
  • Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME;" behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION." 2 Cor. 6:2.
  • Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:10
Clearly, God desires for us to find contentment and rest in Him. To try doing otherwise is, indeed, a reflection of arrogant pride. Think about it: if God says that He is enough, but I feel like I need something more . . . be it something more tangible or more visible or more immediate (or more obvious or more spiritual, the list could go on) . . am I not purporting to know better what I need than He?

So, yes, out of unrest and arrogant pride is right. Pride that would lead me to think I could possibly comprehend and fathom what would be best for me. I, who know not what tomorrow holds. I who know not the boundaries of the lands and the seas. I who know not the number of hairs on my head. I who know not when this fleeting, mortal life shall cease to be. Arrogant pride, indeed.


robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
robert said...

Marvelous commentary on a fine gospel song. Keep writing...please!

Your blog caught my eye this morning because of the quotation of Sleeper's invitation hymn. As you note, it is rich with meaning. Another of his songs, "Ye Must Be Born Again," is based on Christ's meeting with Nicodemus.

Incidentally, today is the 105th anniversary of the author's death. And, if you'll forgive the blatant commercial, to learn more about many other hymn writers I invite you to check out my daily blog, Wordwise Hymns describing events in hymn history for each day of the year.