I am blessed to have wonderful memories of loving parents and grandparents. This old hymn reminds me of being with them, and enjoying the comfort and encouragement they provided. Their example helped me learn to rest in the personal comfort and encouragement that our Lord and Savior continues to provide. Give it a listen — sing along with it — and come back for more about this lovely hymn.
Relationship, not religion
It seems religion and relationship (with God) started competing with each other as early as the Garden of Eden, where Eve used good “religious” reasons to disobey God. Keep reading in Genesis and see that Adam & Eve’s son, Cain, also did religious service but missed God’s heart. He went on to become the first murderer!
I was stunned the first time I heard this about Eve and Cain — and others in the Bible, too. I had thought that to be religious was the same thing as to have a personal LOVING relationship with the Lord.
Being religious is not necessarily bad. I just want to offer the thought that it is possible to be religious but miss having a personal relationship with the Lord. (And, it is possible to NOT be what we think of as religious, and be mighty for God. Samson, in the book of Judges, comes to mind.)
If we had to choose, I’m pretty sure most of us would rather go with having a personal relationship with the Lord.
Here are some quotes of the sort that got me to start thinking about these two words, “religion” and “relationship”:
“[Some] think that Christianity is you doing all the righteous things you hate and avoiding all the wicked things you love in order to go to Heaven. No, that’s a lost man with religion. A Christian is a person whose heart has been changed; they have new affections.” ~ Paul Washer
“Religion is a guy in church thinking about fishing.
Relationship is a guy out fishing thinking about God.”
“Christianity is not a religion. It is the way of a Father with His family.”
17th century Germans
Our hymn, “Be Still, My Soul” got its start in Germany during a time when Protestants were wrestling with each other over this “religion/relationship” question. In the early 1600’s German Protestants were dividing into two large camps. In broad terms:
—one group said the most important goal of the church was for its leaders/scholars to discuss and debate what the Bible says, so they could then direct the “common” people’s Christian walk.
—the other group said the most important goal of the church was to help each “common” person learn how take personal responsibility to come to a knowledge of God and His word, and to live for God in their own lives. This was a bit threatening to the scholar/leader group who felt uncomfortable helping ordinary people acquire that much independence in their walk with God.
This division in Germany continued well into the late 1700’s when the lyrics to this hymn were written.
When we read the lyrics, we can easily see this hymn came out of the second group — the ones who wanted to learn to know and obey God personally. The hymn is about the comfort and encouragement we can enjoy because we know God cares for His own personally.
COMFORT and ENCOURAGEMENT through a personal relationship with the Lord. That message was welcomed back then and is still welcome today!
Everyone has two chances at a happy home life
I began this article saying the comfort and encouragement of “Be Still, My Soul” reminded me of my happy childhood. I was raised by loving parents, who themselves were raised by loving parents. I know not everyone had that. I know it can be hard for someone who did not have a loving earthly father to relate to God as a loving Heavenly Father, let alone to seek and have a personal relationship with God and His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To you I offer this idea:
Everyone has two chances at a happy home life:
1. The home you grow up in as a child
2. The home you provide as an adult to your own family.
You did not have much to say about the first one. But the second is all yours. Let’s make the most of our privilege to give the next generation a shot at TWO happy home lives. (TIP – visit Strong Families Strong People on YouTube for great, brief videos with practical tips on living well together. I’m confident you’ll be glad you checked it out!)
God bless you lots!
LYRICS: Be Still, My Soul
Words: Katharina von Schlegel (1752), trans. Jane Borthwick (1855)
Melody: Jean Sibelius (Finlandia – 1899)
1. Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side!
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to your God to order and provide
In ev’ry change He faithful will remain
Be still, my soul: your best, your heav’nly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
2. Be still, my soul: your God does undertake
To guide the future as He has the past;
Your hope your confidence let nothing shake
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
3. Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
I John 1:3 says, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” What are your thoughts on fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ? Please jot a note in the “Leave a reply” spot below.
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