I changed the name of my blog, to reflect the novice-philosopher direction it's taking, and also partly as a direct homage to Dr. Koobs' book.
This morning I was contemplating the hymn "At The Cross," also known as "Alas! and did my Savior bleed."
"Alas! and did my Saviour bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?"
I love Issac Watts' words, but somehow I'm really bothered by the refrain. Doesn't seem to fit.... Turns out the refrain wasn't written by Watts at all, but someone named Ralph E. Hudson. Why did he add that? "And now I am happy all the day." So cute, aww, so happy, let's all plant flowers and have an herbal tea party.
So, the subject of today's musing: If you're a Christian, are you really happy all the day?
Well, if you read the Psalms, you certainly aren't. If you read the Gospel record of Jesus' life, you certainly aren't (was Jesus a Christian?). "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Psalm 22 pretty much covers it all.
Once upon a time, or two or three, some more recently than others, I have been led through a situation which did not turn out OK for me. I was not happy all the day. Some of the day? Sure. Do I believe that difficult situations can turn us closer to God if we chose that route? Yes. Will I be unhappy about it the rest of my life? Of course not. Am I the only Christian who has to go through this kind of thing? Definitely not. But did that situation turn out OK, and am I happy about it? No. Let's just say even the excellent cardiac team at LLUMC could not have done much to repair my heart. (In one case, long long ago, they were more of a hindrance than a help. But that's a different story.)
We are called to give 100% to God, as Elder Skeete said in the evangelistic series. It made me think, what do I still have to give up? We need to have 100% faith, not 95%. The devil sneaks through the last 5% like a cat sneaks through that door you opened just a crack and thought, he can't possibly get through there.
Sometimes I'm pretty good at qualifications for answers to prayer. I can get pretty creative. God cannot go against a person's free choice. He must answer prayers only as according to His divine will and it must fit with the divine law. This logically turned into The Ifs. The Unlesses. The Except-if's. The What-Abouts. They all seemed perfectly valid to me, and I think they still are.
But one day, after I was contemplating giving 100% to God, not 95%, I was impressed by this thought: "Don't think about The Ifs. Am I a God who is too small to deal with them? Do I need your help? If it's My will, it will happen, despite the Ifs, the Unlesses, and the What-Abouts. You have no idea how I can do this, but I can. So why don't you just deal with what you are responsible for, and let Me deal with the rest?"
One night I was lying in bed, not expecting to sleep for a while, while I felt extremely restless and the What-If's crawled into my ear (a la Shel Silverstein), but God intervened again and said again, "Have faith in Me. Can you trust Me, even if it has not turned out OK in the past? Do you believe I have to power to make it all OK in the end?"
I said Yes. I have no idea how a secular scientist or psychologist could explain the immediate calm and restfulness I felt right then. I drifted gently and quickly to sleep.
Here's the conclusion I've come to all along: No, I don't really believe that every Christian is always "happy all the day." But a Christian is someone who, at the end of the day, both he and God know that they can talk.
Continuing with Issac Watts...
"But drops of grief can ne'er repay
This debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself to Thee,
'Tis all that I can do."
Maybe that's why Psalm 22 ends, "My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation."