Tune My Heart To Sing Thy Grace

I’ve always loved the hymn Come Thou Fount. I’ve sung this countless times in church, in the shower, in the car, in my head — I had to refrain from adding it to every single worship set list when I led. It’s a beautiful hymn whose lyrics are so full of our own struggles and God’s persistent love for us despite our frequent failures.

This song keeps playing in my mind lately. And the first few lines keep repeating in my heart: Come thou fount of every blessing / Tune my heart to sing thy grace.

It isn’t extremely enlightening or revolutionary, but these words hit home in a way that press against my chest and constrict my breathing. And when I sing these lines, I feel more as if I am crying out a prayer instead of singing a traditional folk melody.

“Come thou fount of every blessing.” Every blessing. Every single one. Not just blessings I think count as blessings. Not just “good” things. By singing this line I am asking for blessings. I am pleading for blessings. I am accepting whatever blessings God decides to pour on me. I am saying yes to Christ. I am saying yes, please send me whatever blessings you see fit to give me.

And normally we view blessings as good things in our lives. Blessings are things we can be thankful for. Blessings are things that make us happy. But sometimes what I forget is that a blessing can come in so many forms. A blessing can come in the form of a full-time job with benefits, but this job might not be anywhere even close to what I want to do with my life. And though I may not be satisfied with the daily grind, what a blessing it is to be employed and to have affordable insurance. A blessing can be parents who are available to watch over my children. Maybe I don’t like the way my parents watch TV with them all day, but I’m unable to be home and my parents provide free child care. A blessing can be an overbearing mother who tells me what to do and how to do it. While that may be frustrating at times, what a blessing it is to have someone care for me this much. A blessing may be that I am unemployed. But it might also give me the time I need to reset my life and figure out my priorities–what matters most. What a blessing that I’m not chained to a desk or a miserable job eight hours a day for five days a week.

There are so many things in life that can be construed as difficulties and obstacles. But these could just as easily be seen as the seeds of blessings. The hardships I go through today may grow into beautiful prosperous things tomorrow.

And so when I sing these words: “Come thou fount of every blessing,” I am letting God know that I mean it. I am not half heartedly singing about a blessing that I want him to send me. I am letting Christ know that I am ready and open to the possibility that the blessing I receive might not seem like a blessing now, but I have faith and trust that it will be a blessing eventually.

And the next line is so beautifully scripted: “Tune my heart to sing thy grace.”

Now that I’ve just resigned myself to the reality of what a blessing might be, I am asking God to tune my heart accordingly.

Isn’t that powerful? As a human, as a person who’s imperfect and fallible, I won’t always be happy-go-lucky and praising God. I won’t always be a beacon of light and hope and love. I will be affected by life and the circumstances of my situations, which will make me go out of tune sometimes. And that’s OK. I’m not able to be strong alone. God knows this. And he pursues me every day so that I don’t have to do this alone.

Even the most beautiful instruments will go out of tune. And we need some tool to calibrate our instruments. How else will we know whether we’re flat or sharp? As a person, I need to be tuned once in a while too. And to me, that’s comforting–knowing that I’m not expected to be perfect all the time.

God will do His work in me, only He can set my heart right. Despite all the things going on in my life, God is still good. God is still constant. He is the same God who made a remarkable promise to Abraham so many years ago. And when I sing “tune my heart to sing thy grace” I am acknowledging to God the condition of my heart. That I may be out of tune. That I may not be perfectly right with Him at this moment. But I am asking for Christ’s help. I am asking to be transformed into the kind of person who is able to sing God’s praise–who is able to live the wonderful grace I’ve already received.

So, yes, God, come thou fount of every blessing let it pour into my life and transform my character and tune my heart to sing thy grace so that no matter what You drown me in, may You be fine tuning me into the woman you created me to be–may you transform the way I live to reflect who You are.

L.

Perspectives of a Creek

I went for a jog the other morning. The air was thick in my lungs and the breeze created a barrier between me and forward motion. Needless to say, I am not in shape. But exercise is exercise. So, hurrah for me for pulling myself out of bed and taking the first step of going outside . . . and then that second step and the third and the fourth and the one that made me want to turn around and just go home. But, I did it. I did it!

I thought I was just getting some physical activity in for the day, but I passed by the creek that I used to play in when I was a kid. My brothers and I would hike down there looking for crayfish and cattails, bugs and critters. It was our Bridge to Terabithia. Our Narnia. It was our childhood.

We would walk along the shallow bank and cross over like we were Israelites fleeing Egypt. We were explorers and pioneers. We were children. To us, it wasn’t just any creek it was The Creek. It was ours.

In my memory, The Creek was teeming with life and mystery. There was a giant willow tree who dipped its branches into the clear, bubbling water. We would grab onto those vines and swing like wild monkeys. Shrieking with laughter. Battles were imagined, blood was lost, wars were won. We would trundle home sundrenched and warm with sweat and happiness.

But as I jogged by the other day, The Creek was unimpressive. Shallow. Dried up, almost. Weeds overran the place. There were no children. There were no wildflowers. There was no willow tree. There was dirt, and there was quiet. There was the reflection of broken sunlight scattered across the still surface.

What happened to the lush oasis of my youth? Why were there no children keeping it alive? I guess that’s just life. We grow up and we give up some things. I feel as though I’ve sacrificed my romance with the world to buy into the adult reality of full-time jobs, health insurance, benefits, 401k’s . . . you name it. (Not that I have those things, but being surrounded by other adults makes me feel like I need those things, which is partially true).

Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic. Maybe I’m just hopeless. But I need to believe that words matter, that art matters, that beauty can and should be treasured. That monetary gain and gainful employment are not the end all be all. That there is no end all be all. Because I don’t believe there is.

In youth, we’re told the world is our oyster. We don’t know what this means, but we hear that it’s ours. Without understanding what we possess, we enjoy being infinite. Lately, all I feel is trapped and hedged in by the world and “the norm.” I miss having the power to shape my own reality.

When I was a child, The Creek was a place of infinite possibility–I created possibility. The other day, it looked . . . without. Perspective can be a powerful tool.

L.

My Mother Is Human Too

I had a closing shift tonight. We somehow managed to get out a little after 10pm. That’s pretty badass since our store is closed to the public at 9pm.

I was tempted to ask one of the girls if she wanted to go out since the night was young, but, since we are old maids, I went to my car and called it a night instead.

I’m so glad I did.

I parked in the driveway surrounded by foggy darkness. My parents’ murmurs crept through the heavy door. And I was greeted warmly by lamplight and a concerned father letting me know there was curry fried rice in the fridge if I was hungry.

Their planning for car situations tomorrow was suspended by my arrival.

Our car needs to go to the shop because something is shaking when it hits 60 mph or more. I haven’t noticed because I haven’t driven that fast yet since we got our new clutch. My mom and I decided to drop the car off at the shop tonight so my dad could sleep.

But we talked for an hour before we left.

She told me about work, and how hard it is. She’s in her fifties and working more than she ever has in her life. My mother has been fortunate enough to never have to work a full time job. She has always been a part time nurse by choice. She chose to work late nights so that she could spend her mornings waking early and making breakfast for three needy children. She chose to walk her needy children to their elementary school. She chose to make the most of the sunlight and do household chores before her night shift. She chose to sacrifice.

And she’s choosing it again. But this time the decision seems more uncertain and the sacrifice to reward ratio is a little murky. It makes me sad to see my mom so stressed.

We talked about family and how I have no patience. I have no patience–if I have patience, it’s very minute. She says she’ll end up in a nursing home.

It makes me sad to see myself from my mother’s eyes–that she thinks I don’t love her enough to want to take care of her. But maybe the wanting isn’t enough. Because, realistically, my future husband and I may not have the finances to take care of my parents. Or two sets of parents. But that’s another day’s worries.

We talked about marriage. We talked about expectations. We talked about in-laws. We talked about life. And I’m so glad I was able to tell her that she set a good example for me. Because of her and my dad’s marriage, I’ve seen how beautiful two people can be. I’ve seen that love begets love.

She’s shown me that a wife who loves her husband will sacrifice her pride to build his confidence. She’s shown me that by trusting her husband, he gains strength to shoulder tough decisions. A good wife will encourage the man she loves because she knows that she’s been trusted with his tender heart that is so vulnerable and easy to breakage otherwise. She’s shown me that a wife should offer comfort and companionship, not criticism. If she is to criticize, it should be constructive and never tear down his character, only fortify it.

And I’ve seen that a husband who is lucky enough to have this type of wife is able to sacrifice his pride for her joy. This husband is willing to forego an hour of sleep to buy her medicine because the only 24/7 store is fifteen minutes away. This husband is patient with her even when she yells. This husband will put away the dishes even though he’s worked a full nine hour day. This husband will drive to her work to pick her up and wait an hour for her to finish only to realize she drove herself that morning and he waited for nothing. This husband will sacrifice his life to ensure hers.

Love begets love.

At this point we decided it was probably time we high tailed it outta there and dropped the car off. When we got home we were ready for bed.

But we sat around gathering baby things that were forgotten from this weekend so that my dad would have an easy time packing the car tomorrow. And while we sat, we talked some more. We mostly talked about church. Our church has gone through a lot in the years, but it has survived and even grown since that time. We talked about how God has a plan for our humble church, regardless of its strengths and weaknesses. And then we talked about weight gain and clothes and just girly things.

And I realize just how much I love my mom. I love her because she’s my mother, but I also love her as a person. If I were some other stranger, with no blood connection to this woman, I would love her. For her beauty, for her kindness, for her wisdom, for her grace.

I saw my mother, not as the superhero who cleans cuts and kisses away tears, not as my meal provider, not as the slave driver who demands a dustless house on weekends, but as a woman who is tired and aching. She has been loving me for the past twenty-five years. She has been trusting me with that love.

Love begets love. Love should be followed with love.

I don’t think I’ve done a good job of this.

 

L.