Posted by: Phoebe | June 28, 2009

My Shepherd Shall Supply My Need

This hymn is one of my favorites and is a follow-up to my previous post:

My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.

— by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), with the tune “Resignation” (I like the tune a lot as well!)

The ending phrases of this song have long been dear to me. This week, they had new meaning to me since I just got back from a family reunion with lots of people I love. The whole family prepared for the wedding of a pure and joyful couple and rejoiced in the sacred wonder of their union. Then we cleaned up after and “all our work was praise.” In the love of my aunts, uncles, and cousins I felt at home, not striving after an identity based on occupation, intellect, or posessions, just loved and recognized as myself and secure to extend that love back to them. “No more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home.”

At the same time, God has been working on me so that I am becoming aware of how I wander from his ways. This time also showed me how I lust after attention and food. It was a strange tension, this joy at being together, mixed with discomfort at my sinful tendencies, mixed with sadness that the time to  be together was so short. I look forward to the day when the limitations of time  and our sin natures have been wiped away and we can enjoy our family in the Lord. This family will be a family of myriads of people, yet we share intimate joy together, with Jesus forever.

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