Friday, May 6, 2011

I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow

Several years ago, Matt and I came across a poem by John Newton called, “I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow." You can read it below. We were both struck by the beauty and truth of Newton’s words, so we framed the poem and hung it on our bedroom wall. A couple years later Indelible Grace wrote a hymn tune to the poem (see video below). I have been thinking a lot about Newton's poem lately. It has really help put my thinking about prayer and suffering into a better, more biblical perspective.

I have grown up in a Christian home all my life, but it was not until high school that I really started to grasp true Christianity and made my faith an internal relationship with Christ rather than an external religion only. In college I began praying specifically that God would use me for His glory in whatever way He saw fit and that I would grow and understand His salvation more deeply. And God answered that prayer, as Newton’s poem suggests, largely through many trials that I had and continue to have in my life: dealing with the death of my father, living far from home, and now battling against cancer. I can say with confidence that God is answering my prayer. Life is not about our circumstances, but is about our relationship to God and our awareness of what He has done for us in Christ and is continuing to do for us each day. God is answering my prayer by teaching me that life is not about being in a “happy” place in life, but is about glorifying Him.

Now, I need to pray that God will continually remind me of these truths so that I might find “joy” in Him every day!

I Asked the Lord That I Might Growby John Newton (1779)

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Romans 5:3-5