Hymn for the Season

Life is hard. Beautiful, agonizing, wonderful, terrifying, joyous, grief-woven, sublime and small. All at once.

Times of transition, whether external or internal, are tough. Yet without them, we don’t grow. Like Bilbo with the ring, we go on living without gaining more life, and if that goes on too long, we may look in the mirror and find Gollum staring back.*

We’re (skip down if you want to avoid foul language) fuckups.

Even the best of us, even at our best moments. We try to do things, and we fail, we’re self-deluded and we think ourselves wise, we look through a distorted lens and believe what we see to be truth. To use modern parlance, we are Epic Fail.

We are. If you think I am wrong, that’s ok. Maybe you’re right. But if what I’m saying makes you angry, may I make a suggestion? Sit quietly for a while and ask yourself why my words anger you. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you. Be glad of that. I’m a bad enough boss over me.

This probably sounds like I’m down on myself, and on humanity as a whole. That’s the funny thing about life, though. It’s full of seeming-contradictions that somehow aren’t contradictory. They just seem like they should be.

I’m more free when I admit this kind of crap than when I try to deny it. I’m free to love myself and humanity when I admit that all is not well. When I try to pretend that I am fine, that I’m not a rampaging mess, I find myself imprisoned, and I find myself doing more damage to myself and to others. The more control I take, the less I have.

Admission is not the same as acceptance. I admit that I struggle with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, a predilection for addiction, depression, and worse than all of those together, I struggle with selfishness, anger and pride. I do not, however, accept these things. I call them out by name and then I turn and fight. I do all I can to overcome them.

I often fail. If I had only myself to rely on, I probably would have given up long ago. Why fight my nature? Against it, I am outmatched. I can only overcome one part of it by indulging another. To quote C. S. Lewis:

“Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices… The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride—just as he would be quite content to see your chilbains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” -Mere Christianity, Chapter 8: The Great Sin

It’s the admission of failure, coupled with the desire to continue to fight, that makes me deeply grateful for the action of my Savior in my life. I’m dead tired, both from internal and external battles. And here He comes, to pick me up, to hold me while I sleep. In Him I find freedom even in the midst of the raging war. He frees me from my self-inflicted slavery, and from the slavery of the world around me.

I am a mess. But He isn’t asking me to get myself together, first, then come to Him when I am ready. He wants me now, mess and all, and if I will come, then bit by bit, painful though it may be, He will make me into my true, free self.

There are some words that, if spoken to another person, spoken as a “you” instead of an “I” or a “we,” become horrible. The following hymn is an example. If anyone can read it, or sing it and not feel that s/he is one of the “sinners,” then it loses all of its power for good. To me, though, in this place, it is a song of life. Because I am a sinner, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore. And if I tarry till I’m better, I will never go to Him at all.

A hymn for the day:

Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy – words by Joseph Hart

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Source: Cyberhymnal

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*In case anyone doesn’t know, this refers to characters in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien

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About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

15 responses to “Hymn for the Season

  • philosophermouseofthehedge

    Nothing like a good hymn. Whatever you need, there’s one that fits.
    You hit all the nails: all at once, self deluded, admission, and acceptance none of that’s a surprise or barrier. It’s going to be OK. He’ll see to that…just keep walking, or crawling, or thinking that direction and it’ll be all right
    Lovely post.

  • Brenton Dickieson

    Amen. And amen. And all is amen.

  • technicolorlilypond

    Finally got the chance to sit down today and read your post. It rings very true indeed, especially today. Thank you for sharing, Jubilare. God bless you and keep you.

  • stephencwinter

    While I was reading your powerful words I was most drawn to your reflection on pride. It is not an excuse for the things that I do that hurt the people I love but if I were to achieve some measure of perfection and then impose that on the folk around me just imagine what a burden I would be imposing upon them. It reminds me of those words of Jesus about striving to make converts of others and then making them children of hell. I don’t think that was just intended for the Pharisees but to warn the ultra pious amongst us (and the Pharisees were ultra pious) of the dangers of our behaviour. More and more I have come to love those who struggle along the pathway with grace keeping them going. The fact that they keep on going gives hope to the rest of us strugglers. God be with you this day and every day.

    • jubilare

      ” It reminds me of those words of Jesus about striving to make converts of others and then making them children of hell.” Those words should be enough to give us pause.
      I probably speak well on the subject of Pride because that, and sloth, are the two sins I find most difficult to fight in myself. And between the two, Pride is the more actively destructive. I hate it. But it’s woven through me so much that I can only hope to win the fight with God’s help.

      Speaking of internal battles, did you ever get that snippet of writing I e-mailed you? I know it came at a bad time.

      • stephencwinter

        I cannot say that you communicate pride in what you write. To me pride is declaring my ego self to be essential and being prepared to make everything else serve that declaration. It is the sin of Saruman but not of Aragorn who rightly declares his kingship to Sauron in the Palantir. To declare your true self as against your ego self is not pride. Thomas Merton speaks of it in his wonderful chapter on Parrhesia, the boldness of Adam before the Fall, in The New Man.
        I wonder if your writing did get lost. I would very much like to read it. Just in case you need my email address again it is mail@stephenwinter.net

        • jubilare

          Ah, but my friend, remember that I am fighting. I haven’t given in. You wouldn’t want to read anything I touched, if I had… it would be insufferable. But believe me when I say that it’s a constant and very bloody fight.
          Stepping into his role as King is, for Aragorn, a kind of humility, an acceptance of who God has made him to be, and the responsibilities that come with it. I want that kind of boldness, and I do not mistake it for pride.

          No, pride makes me pleased with my gifts not because they are gifts, but because they are mine. It wants to use them to garner praise, to express superiority. It bubbles up and wants me to tear into others who show pride because it feels that they are not showing me proper respect. It gets angry when I do something stupid because of “lost dignity.” It tempts me to despise other people. It’s Morgoth, through and through.

          I thank God for the grace to see it well enough to fight it, even if fighting is far harder (for now) than simply being the insufferable prig that part of me wants to be.

          Thanks! I will re-send it. ^_^

          • stephencwinter

            And that is what we seek to do, to keep on struggling. As I walk by the canal each morning I sing Bunyan’s hymn. It’s my call to the daily battle. “There’s no discouragement shall make him (I sing ‘me’ here to make it more personal) once relent, his (my) first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.”
            I look forward to opening my email programme later today and hopefully will find your work there.

  • Colleen Whitver

    Reading this again. <3

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