Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Love To Thee, O Christ

A first time visitor to our church approached my husband after the service this past Sunday.  Having already been introduced before the service began, the man felt free to come and make a comment on Robert's sermon after the service was over.

"The way I've come to judge a good sermon recently is to ask myself if the sermon caused me to love Jesus more than I did before. Your sermon today did just that.  I love Jesus more now because of what you taught today, man.  Thank you."

Later that evening, Robert told me about this interaction with tears in his eyes.  Giving all credit to Christ for the sermon, he was overwhelmed by the honor of being used by Him in that way.  I was in tears as well.  The sermon made me love Jesus more, too, but it wasn't the only thing this week that served to bring about about more love for my Savior.

The other thing wasn't powerful, expositional teaching.  It wasn't a beautiful worship song, or faith exhorting book.  Honestly, it wasn't even the written Word of God which always lifts my eyes and soul to Him.  It was sorrow.  It is grief.  A pained and breaking heart.  Rejection and loss.

"It hurts so much," I say to my pastor husband.  "Like, my heart literally hurts.  I sat in church listening to your sermon that, like the man said, truly was making me love Jesus more, but I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Couldn't fight the tears. I don't think I've ever truly suffered a broken heart until now."

A couple of days pass.  Surely, I'll feel better after some sleep, some daily distractions, some food, I think to myself.  But I don't.

"How are you doing," the husband asks me during our usual 6.7 mile run along the secluded bike trail early one morning.

"It's not better. It is so painful.  The sadness is so present.  All that was invested.  All that I believed. The tears come unexpectedly.  When will I feel better?  How will I move forward?" I cry.

"I don't know, but I think you know and love Jesus more now because of the sorrow, don't you," he gently suggests.

"But I feel foolish for believing and giving so much," I say.

"You did those things unto Christ.  Nothing has been lost.  Much has been gained.  You love Christ more now," the prophet husband speaks.

And he's right.  And I do.

It made me think of Mrs. Campbell from my favorite book...

"I was bound to my God and Savior before I knew a sorrow, it is true.  But it was by a chain of many links; and every link that dropped away brought me to Him till at last, having nothing left, I was shut up to Him and learned fully what I had only learned partially, how soul-satisfying He is."

Mrs. Campbell is a fictional character dreamed up by the same godly woman who wrote this hymn:

More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee
Hear now the prayer I make, on bended knee
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee
More love to Thee, more love to Thee

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best
This all my prayer shall be:  More love to Christ, to Thee
More love to Thee, more love to Thee

Let sorrow do its work, come grief and pain
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet Their refrain
When they can sing with me, More love, O Christ, to Thee
More love to Thee, more love to Thee

Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise
This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ, to Thee
More love to Thee, more love to Thee

by Elizabeth Prentiss 1818-1878

And then I came home and opened up His Word, and this is what it said:

"Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me. In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble." 
Psalm 143: 10-11

"For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.  He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation." 
Psalm 149:4

For His sake He beautifies me with salvation ~ with a depth of understanding regarding exactly what my salvation is. Freedom from sin.  Freedom to love Him more. (And He will even bring my soul out of its troubled state, as well.)

I think Mrs. Campbell says it perfectly:

"Love to Christ becomes the abiding, inmost principle of his (the mature Christian's) life; he loves Him rather for what He is than for what He has done or will do for him individually, and God's honor becomes so dear to him that he feels personally wounded when that is called in question.  And the will of God becomes so dear to him that he loves it best when it 'triumphs at his cost.' "

So yes, let sorrow do its work: More Love to Thee, O Christ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Brightness of my Father's glory, Sunshine of my Father's face,
Let Thy glory e'er shine on me,
Fill me with thy grace."
Wishing you sunshine in your soul, Melanie. Blue skies, K&J