When the day started I had a completely different direction for this edition of the iPod Devotional. I had discovered a new artist and I was excited to share the artist and the inspiration. The random iPod feature changed that direction entirely this morning. An old hymn that I remembered from my moralistic past cued up. I have a tendency to move past those old songs because they remind me of a graceless congregation that nearly crushed me with rules and hypocritical judgment. I glanced at the screen. Casting Crowns. Hmm…I had a conundrum. I love Casting Crowns. So I decided to listen to the music of my painful past and a song called “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”.
I was amazed to discover that I used to sing about the same truths that I am now discovering. The difference is that I did not understand how those truths played out in grace and faith. One of my normal tasks is to research the story behind the song. This is a hymn that came out of heartbreak.
During the summer of 1875 Louisa Stead and her husband decided to enjoy the Long Island beach with their four-year-old daughter. Their family joy was interrupted by the desperate cry of a young boy drowning. Louisa's husband tried to rescue him but both he and the boy were tragically lost in front of the frantic wife and daughter.
The shocked widow struggled to feed her child as she cried out to the Lord to help. At the end of her rope and resources she opened her door one morning to find that someone had left food and money on her doorstep. That night she sat down and wrote this poem which would become the classic hymn.
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!
Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
What a powerful message and the words are even more powerful in the context of her loss. Her lyrics echo what I missed during years of frustrating self-effort. Look at the words she chooses to describe her walk with Jesus.
· Take Him at His Word
None of those would have fit into my agenda of spiritual maturity and manly dedication. My words were more along the lines of try harder, study more, work harder and memorize more. None of those were bad things. The problem was my source of power. Me. There is only source of power that works. Jesus. And that power comes out of trust.
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
I am finally trusting that Jesus is my only source of strength to cease from sin and self. And I am learning that trusting Him leads to joy, peace, life and rest. The truth has been under my nose since that song hit my ears as a young believer decades ago. But a works theology and wounded heart short circuited that joy and peace. Now I can sing joyfully along with this verse.
I’m so glad I learned to trust him,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Will be with me to the end.
The truth is I would have to sing “I’m so glad I’m learning to trust Him” if I am to be honest with you. I have heard it said that Jesus is unlike any other teacher. At school we always learned the lessons (hopefully) and then we took the test. In faith we generally have the test first and then the Holy Spirit gently teaches us the lesson. That is the story of this amazing hymn. That is my story. It is likely yours as well. Jesus said this to his Apostles before He left them.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14, NLT
There is that trust word again. Paul prayed for the blessed result of trusting Jesus as he wrapped up his letter to the Roman church.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15, NLT)
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more. Paul wrote about that grace in Romans.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. (Romans 5, NIV)
We are justified by faith. We stand on His grace. Put your full weight on that grace and remember how sweet it is to trust fully in Jesus.