Experiencing a wilderness right now? One of my favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. As I looked into the story behind it, I discovered there were more verses than what most hymnals include. Instead of there being only 3 verses as I was accustomed to, there are actually 5 verses. Take a minute and read through them. If you want to check out the story, you can read it here.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day
If you find yourself struggling with some of the language, take some time to look up what some of the words mean.
The verse I want to focus on and write about briefly is the 4th. This verse presents a story of our lives in a powerful way as well as presents a heartfelt prayer I am sure most Christians at one point or another find themselves expressing. We are prone to wander; we are prone to leave the God we profess to love. This is part of our nature. It started with Adam and Eve and has been handed down through generations. We like to look at the Israelites and wonder how they could be so hard headed when God was visibly present. However, no sooner were they in the wilderness delivered from the slavery of Egypt, when they began to complain. They had just witnessed God send numerous plagues on the Egyptians, God helped the Israelites plunder the Egyptians before they left the country, and then they crossed the Red Sea on dry land. This is not a task anyone could pull off; it was only accomplished by God’s power. The Israelites saw this first person. However, within a couple days of being in the wilderness and having to fully trust God to provide while experiencing some discomfort, they begin to complain. You can read about this in Exodus 14-16.
This story helps me see how quickly we allow our circumstances to become bigger than God. I am just like the Israelites. Many times I will know God is leading me but after taking some steps following Him, life gets a little more difficult, and I begin to complain or even question whether I heard God’s voice correctly. As I sit here contemplating this, I wonder how often God leads people where it becomes immediately easier? How many times does God ask us to follow Him where everything makes sense right away? Personally, I do not recall many stories where God lead people to where life became easier. Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” When God calls us, He calls us to step out in faith and trust Him. There are times when God calls us, He will lead us into a wilderness to strip us of trust or dependence on or in anything other than Himself. That is what He did with the Israelites. He called them to follow Him and trust Him and then lead them right into the wilderness.
I write this because there have been numerous times in my life I know God is leading me to take certain steps, but then when life begins to get a little more difficult and maybe God does not do something or provide in a way I would like, I begin to doubt God’s goodness. I begin to let my mind wander and question whether God really does want what is best for me. Does He care about me? Unfortunately, there is this idea that when you respond in faith to God, everything will immediately begin to make sense. However, throughout the Bible, when people responded to God’s call, He asked them to do things that did not make sense.
The wilderness would have been one of the biggest blessings to the Israelites had they allowed it to draw them closer to God instead of drive them to complaining. So it is with my life. The wilderness God leads us to and through can become the biggest blessing in my life because it can strip me of any sort of dependence on anything other than God and can lead me to trust in God like never before. If God is leading you through a wilderness right now, trust Him, because the place where He wants you and is leading you is on the other side and He will lead you to it. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. It is difficult at times, but that is how God strengthens our faith.
Now, go back and read the last verse of the hymn and let that encourage you.