Come Thou Fount.

((from Jessica))

When my brother was little, he was a quieter soul. He wasn’t flashy, he wasn’t loud, and he was hardly a “show boat.” In all truthfulness, he was a lot like my mom – steady, consistent, and quick to serve. So I’ll never forget the Sunday evening when he quickly and boldly raised his hand during the congregation’s ever-favorite, “Pick your Favorite Hymn,” night.

I feel like I can still see his brown-sandy head and those big baby blues as he bravely announced for all to hear. “Number 17. Come Thou Fount.”

Immediately, tears stung my proud sister eyes.

Half shocked, I remember glancing over at my mom with a look that pretty much all but said, “What in the world?!?! Why is he raising his hand, and why in the world is he choosing #17?!?!”

I truly don’t remember all of his answer when we asked him after the service why he chose #17, but I remember him saying something to the effect of, “I like the tune.”

And ever since that day, every single time I hear the song, “Come Thou Fount,” my eyes go misty and my heart wanders back to that little old church and that sweet, little boy with his hand in the air.

So when I saw this hymn was listed as an option for this week’s blog post, I jumped like a hot potato to dive into it’s history. But just as quickly as I dove in with excitement, I resurfaced with a mixed bag of emotions.

Most historians agree that this beloved hymn was penned in 1757 by Robert Robinson. Robinson’s father died when he was a small boy and without a father to help guide him, he fell into companionship with a brood of bad apples. As noted by many resources, a teenage Robinson, along with his gang, forced a gypsy into drunkenness one night and demanded the woman to share their fortunes for free. It is said the gypsy woman pointed her finger at Robinson and told him he’d live to see his children and grandchildren.

Apparently, this struck a nerve in the heart of Robinson because he delcared, “If I am going to see my children and grandchildren live, I can’t go on living the way I am now.”

At the age of 20, after a run-in with the fiery preaching of George Whitefield and a few more years of sowing his wild oats, Robinson eventually accepted salvation and set out to become a preacher himself. Shortly after, he wrote the words of “Come Thou Fount,” to express his joy in his new-found faith.

This man had had an encounter with the Good Shepherd – the shepherd who runs after each and every one of His lost sheep, calling their name, rescuing them from danger, and leading them to green pastures and still waters.
That’s our story, too, friend.
Lost, estranged, and far from God; we needed a blood transfusion bought with precious blood and won through a priceless sacrifice.

Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

“I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…” Ephesians 4:16-19

But then I get to this part in the song, and I read about another part of Robinson’s life and all of a sudden, that mixed bag of emotions (the one I mentioned above) comes to the surface in the middle of founts of grace and a merciful Shepherd who has rescued one of his lost sheep.

Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;

When he penned the words, Robinson was aware he had been set free, no longer a prisoner and no longer defined by sin… and yet, he begs of grace to bind his heart to God. Why? Because he knows his flesh, and he knows the GPS of his heart is prone to wander and prone to leave the One he loves.

“Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” Romans 7:21-23

So does he wander?

There are differing accounts as to what happens with this “gang member turned Methodist,” but one very popular account is as follows:

One day, while riding in a stagecoach, a lady asks Robinson what he thinks about the hymn she is humming. It is said that Robinson responded, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.” 

So what did Robinson mean? What had happened? What had gone wrong? Had he left his faith and wandered from the fold? We can’t know for sure, but based on his answer, we can deduce that Robinson was (at the very least) no longer experiencing the “joy of his salvation.”

Hoper, are you there now? Are you struggling in your walk? Are you yearning, like Robinson, for the days of old where the founts of blessings spouted, the streams of mercy flowed, and the grace of God had chained you?

I don’t know if the stagecoach lady gave Robinson a heaping lecture of love or asked him more questions or kept quiet, I don’t know if she reminded him of the Gospel of grace found in his very own hymn (I hope she did), but I want to be that stagecoach lady. RIGHT NOW… for YOU! 

Friend, no doubt about it… hope is hard. The walk can be weary and there is a thief who is out to steal our joy and imprison our hearts. And YET, the fetter of His grace is stronger and the work of His blood is bigger.

Dear one, I don’t know why, where, and how long you’ve been wandering, but I pray you will go back to the Truth found in that second stanza…trusting that His grace never runs out and His mercies never cease.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

As another famous hymn writer once wrote (after a run-in with sin and a wandering from the Truth), “Oh give me back my joy again; you have broken me–now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a loyal spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” That famous hymn writer is one you probably know well – goes by the name of David and this song is recording in Psalm 51.

Hoper, you are never too far, and it is never too late to return to His fold and bathe in His blood. His stream of mercy is NEVER ceasing – so let’s, together, sing our loudest praise!

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