We have not known Thee as we ought,
Nor learned Thy wisdom, grace and power;
The things of earth have filled our thought,
And trifles of the passing hour.
Lord, give us light Thy truth to see,
And make us wise in knowing Thee.
We have not feared Thee as we ought,
Nor bowed beneath Thine awful eye,
Nor guarded deed and word and thought,
Remembering that God was nigh.
Lord, give us faith to know Thee near,
And grant the grace of holy fear.
We have not loved Thee as we ought,
Nor cared that we are loved by Thee;
Thy presence we have coldly sought,
And feebly longed Thy face to see.
Lord, give a pure and loving heart
To feel and know the love Thou art.
We have not served Thee as we ought,
Alas, the duties left undone,
The work with little fervor wrought,
The battles lost or scarcely won!
Lord, give the zeal, and give the might,
For Thee to toil, for Thee to fight.
When shall we know Thee as we ought,
And fear and love and serve aright?
When shall we, out of trial brought,
Be perfect in the land of light?
Lord, may we day by day prepare
To see Thy face and serve Thee there.
The hymn above is called 'We Have Not Known Thee as We Ought' and I sung it a few months ago in church. It struck me at the time how beautiful this hymn was for it is singularly accurate in its assessment of the Christian life. 'Battles lost of scarcely won' - this line particularly stood out for I find this so true of my own struggle with sin, the battles with temptation I lose or barely win.
It would be easy to get depressed by this hymn, a litany of failure: failure in every area to be all that we should be, to love God as we should, to serve him as we should, complete and total failure to bring our lives, thoughts and heart into obedience with God.
But it doesn't depress me, it greatly encouraged me, other people felt as broken as I did! Another Christian felt his lackingness so strongly that he wrote a hymn about it. It was encouraging to know that I was in excellent company.
Of greater encouragement still are the last two lines of every verse for they illustrate the truth that as we realize our nothingness and brokenness and helplessness to be what we ought to be then we turn to God and seek in him all that we don't find in us.
Notice how it is always: Lord give! Surely that should be our constant prayer: Lord give me all that I need, give me the grace i lack, the strength in my weakness, the hope in my despair, the love in my apathy, the holiness in my sin, the zeal in my laziness. Lord give!
And does not the Lord give? "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”(Luke 11v11-13)
And when we see our sin and all that we are not should not we raise our heads and look to the cross? When we find ourselves in a pit of sin and guilt and our vileness reaches to the heavens should we not come to the great exchange and find our sin removed and Christ's righteousness given? For Christ came not for the righteous but for sinners and we all qualify for his love and grace.
If, like me, you find yourself struggling in the fight, battered and beaten, losing battles or scarcely winning them, driven to your knees by all that you are not and longing to be more than you are then take heart, have courage, with God we shall do valiantly! Turn to God and say: Lord give! And he will for such is his delight. You are in excellent company and God has spent the entirety of human history dealing with his sinful people. His love for you has not ceased, his tender kindness is not in the least diminished, ask that he would give and be assured that he will!