Ever since I first heard the hymn “I Asked the Lord” at Swiss L’Abri, I have loved it, even though it promises difficult things for me. You can find the whole hymn (with words and the music that I most love from Indelible Grace) here in this YouTube video.
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”
In this hymn, and in my life right now, I am reminded of God’s ultimate purpose: to be glorified in us so we might truly find our only joy in Him. His goal is not to give us a happy life, or a big and beautiful and all-present family, or to let us be well-fed and unmolested, or to provide for us financially. He does give good gifts to His children because He loves us, but those are His mercies. His real goal with us is to bring us to a place in this earth where we truly do find our all in Him. And He has chosen, at long last, to truly bring my family to that place, with Julia’s death. Our only joy left in our aching hearts is Jesus Himself.
I feel like He’s been doing this with my little Elliott&Becca family since we got married… actually, He’s been doing it liberally to us. (Maybe sometime I’ll go into this as well.) But He hasn’t touched my original family that much over the years besides the general stresses of life and given us the deaths we expected in their time (my ailing grandmother, our old dog). Then, just last fall, a dear friend unexpectedly died last fall; Emily Roe felt like a part of our family, and she was the nearest thing we had to a sister outside of our own family. But Julia was our family, she was our sister. If we wanted to ask, as the author of this hymn does, for God to help us grow in Him, we would have been stunned that God would ask so very much of us. Julia’s death is above and beyond anything we could have imagined. He took away a sister, a daughter, a best friend. What a painful, life-leaching, agonizing way to bring us to find joy in only Jesus! I hope and pray with all my heart that we will find our all in Him, both now and in the many other trials that surely await us later (or sooner) in life. “He who promised is faithful”: this is the verse on Emily Roe’s grave, and this we must cling to.
I am still struck at random times–and will be for months and maybe years, I think–that Booie is gone. We were watching Anne of Avonlea the other night and I let my mind wander away from the movie for a moment. And wham, there it was, this overwhelming reality. Booie is dead. Booie is gone. Forever. I feel like this is a wall that I turn and run into multiple times a day. We are doing ordinary things in our same house in the same way we have been doing these things for years, like all relaxing on couches watching an old favorite movie… but a member of our family is gone for the rest of our time on earth. How can this be? How can this be reality? What has happened to us?
“That thou may’st seek thy all in Me…. that thou may’st seek thy all in Me…”