Meditating on His Presence

I've been considering appointing myself a challenge such as this ever since I realized that I had drifted out of practice of writing hymns some time during 2016, with no particular reason - I simply did. I estimated the start of a new year as opportune to embark upon this journey; and with that challenge comes this companion blog, which shall chronicle my thoughts on this trek. My native language is music, as such, while you read, bear no malice towards my slovenly writing and disheveled mental processes. 

January 1 happened to fall on a Sunday this year. As such, I was sitting in the middle of a sermon at church when these words came to me: 

                    For no other thing do I have need
                    Save that Thy presence stay with me

I don't normally think in rhyming couplets. But the words were particularly poignant on New Years Day. It's something that I have known to be true for most of my Christian life - all I need is Christ. I've even been thinking about the implications of Emmanuel being our God here with us throughout this Christmas season. But for some reason, the Lord had placed it on my heart even more clearly right in that moment. I'll be honest, from that point on, I have no clue what else was said in the sermon. 

I'm pretty sure the sermon was from Exodus, but I drawn to Matthew. Chapter 13 to be exact. 

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  - Matthew 13:44

This is absurd. Who would do such a thing? What motivation could vindicate this man's obstinance? Even for a treasure more valuable than life itself, this decision seems audacious. However, that's exact what a treasure we have in Christ, and giving up everything, although seemingly audacious, is the most rational decision we could make if we could fully understand the fullness of the worth of Christ. So, in all these other trivial, earthly (albeit perhaps laudable) things that I want, do I value Christ so much that they are essentially worth nothing to me? 

More than job security, more than health, more than relationships, more than family, more than dreams and aspirations - I need Christ. And in fact, Christ alone is so perfectly sufficient, that I don't need any of those other things. 

Sometimes I feel like God gives me words to a song based on things that I have gone through. They are emotions that I have processed, and I look back on the situation, and write about it. Other times, I feel like God gives me words that will pertain to a situation I have yet to encounter, or something that I need to learn. I feel like the latter is the case with this first song of the year. 

Throughout the day, I just kept repeating those two lines to myself, and I have the feeling it will end up being some kind of motto for 2017: 

                     For no other thing do I have need
                    Save that Thy presence stay with me

According to the parameters I set out for this challenge, the hymn must be at least four verses long (or three with a refrain). With that in mind, I sat at my desk and penned these words: 

In all the things this world provides
Goods and kin cannot satisfy
Extract what severs me from You
Dissolve all things that cloud my view
For no other thing do I have need
Save that Thy Presence stays with me

Thy Spirit stays my guiding light
Endless beacon in dismal night
Do not forsake - O do not leave!
Thy presence here, my one reprieve
In this darkness attend my plea
O, let Thy presence stay with me

If it costs my life to follow You
I yield my own in one pursuit
For Thou alone my treasure art
One sole passion consumes my heart
For everything is my joy to leave
Because Thy presence stays with me

When I have drawn my final breath
When I succumb to meet my death
Tis but a bridge that carries me
Nearer, Nearer my God, to Thee
Heaven is only Heaven to me
Because Thy presence stays with me

I hope that as we start 2017 that these words are an encouragement to you. No matter what happens this year, God has promised not to leave or forsake His children. Christ paid the ransom so that we could have this access to the Father. Christ was abandoned by the Father so that we would never have to be. This means that we will never be without His presence - the one thing we need more than life itself.