Thursday, July 13, 2017

"From him who loves me now so well..."


Hymn: "I've Found a Friend, O Such a Friend" - James G. Small (1817-1888)
Tune: FRIEND

From him who loves me now so well what pow'r my soul can sever?
Shall life or death or earth or hell? No! I am his forever.

This is a longer hymn-line than usual, but I couldn't pare it down.

For just a moment, think back to a time when you realized that one of your acquaintances had become a friend. Was it a slow process, or did it happen fairly quickly? Did that friendship develop into a deep relationship, or did it "cool down" with time? If this friendship has lasted for a long time, then just now you should have felt a warmth in your spirit; you probably sensed a smile come to your face.

This entire hymn is about Christ's constantly-developing friendship with those of us who genuinely believe in him... who are working at the relationship from our side as well. Again, the warmth -- the smile. (sigh)

This hymn-line happens to be the final two phrases of the text, and it turns the following prose from Romans 8:35-39 into poetry:
What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... No! In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present , nor things to come ,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When I sing this hymn-line, my favorite part is the word "No!" It is one of those times when no is positive. It is not like a childish refusal to eat vegetables; it is more akin to our use of "no way"... no way that's gonna happen! In spite of everything, Christ and I are bound together forever! (I'll give you a moment to reflect on that!)

I also think there is a significance to Small's use of the word "now": From him who loves me now so well. In that snippet, we are reminded that the love for Christ for us is in the here and now - not only at the moment of our redemption, or into eternity... or even yesterday. Right now, he is still working on his side of the friendship, loving me so well. I need to reciprocate in kind.

An un-severable friendship. What a blessed assurance!
(It has the words so you can sing along if you'd like!)

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Hymnlines - Hemlines: Get it?! :)

Hymnlines - Hemlines: Get it?! :)