O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
The first two sermon series our pastor preached upon ‘being appointed’ were markedly different sides of the same coin. The transcending glory of Christ through Colossians, and the deep valleys of suffering in Job. It was during that stage of life for me in my early twenties, having walked with Jesus for awhile but so unsuspecting in the school of suffering. This is when this hymn entered my life’s songbook, and its been as a frontlet between my eyes ever since.
I’m only familiar with the refrain as it’s been sung no less than a thousand times in our family before every nap and as a constant part of the bedtime routine with our daughters. For awhile my three year old added a satisfactory “honk honk” at the end. I hope Mrs. Lemmel (the hymn’s author) would be entertained.
What I love about Helen Lemmel’s poetic and timeless words are that the beauty of Christ doesn’t negate the darkness of this life. Like David, we sing to our own soul in the first verse. Weariness, troubled darkness, the rhetorical opening question assume these. She sings of the threat of sin’s dominion, death, and being sent into a world that’s dying. The outshining glory of Christ isn’t threatened by the suffering of this world. Our pastor often uses the word “eclipse” when likening the relationship of suffering and the glory of God. Oh, true to say, the things of this world can abuse our souls. But the eclipsing radiance of Jesus is far grander and more eternal than what we have in front of our face today.
We can see this all through scripture. Jesus, faced with filling the bellies of a hillside stadium of people, turned His eyes first to heaven to thank God for the insufficient bread and fish. God is El Shaddai and it was enough. He also, called man of many sorrows, had His eyes fixed beyond the shame of the cross to the joy set before Him. Stephen, facing the imminent death by blunt force trauma because he chose obedience,
“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,” Acts 7:55.
I’ve prayed this week for eyes widened to the glory of God. Glory of God? How do I behold Him like that anyway? Archaic words, even if beautiful. How is this in my working vocabulary these days, much less my actual experience? “Glory” is a churchy (but really accurate!) word for adoring praise; the state of absolute happiness.
I heard about cave-dwelling fish that over time and generations have lost all pigment in their skin and are entirely blind. Their lives don’t demand any intake of sun. Oh, God, that I wouldn’t adapt to the darkness of this world. How I need a steady and regular diet of the Light of Life, Jesus Himself, the very Word of God, so my eyes are satisfied and rejoicing!
Can I call on Mr. Lewis again for a story-picture of this?
So, our Narnian friends are on board the Dawn Treader exploring as far east as they can venture to find Aslan’s country.
“Lucy knelt down on the deck and drank from the bucket. ‘Its the loveliest thing I have ever tasted,’ she said with a kind of gasp. ‘But oh—its strong. We don’t need to eat anything now.’ And one by one everybody on board drank. And for a long time they were all silent. They felt almost too well and strong to bear it; and presently they began to notice another result. As I have said before, there had been too much light ever since they left the island of Ramandu—the sun too large (though not too hot), the sea too bright, the air too shining. Now, the light grew no less—if anything, it increased—but they could bear it. They could look straight up at the sun without blinking. They could see more light than they had ever seen before,” -The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
Lord! Let us drink of the springs of life in Christ Jesus through Your Word so that the eyes of our souls would dilate to see Your splendor. We want the joys of this world to pale next to You, sorrows grow oddly blurred, in the light of Your glory and grace!