Sunday, February 21, 2010

Before the Throne

A church story... but first, this hymn. If you haven't heard it or could just use a reminder, you can listen here: Before the Throne of God Above

Before The Throne of God Above

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there! The risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased with His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

Before the Throne of God Above
Charitie Bancroft, 1863. Music: William Bradbury, 1861

This morning in church I sat next to Carl. I'm not sure how old Carl is but probably well into his 80's. I heard his trembling voice belting out the words to the hymn above and I had trouble keeping my thoughts on my own heart. At the greeting time, he shook my hand with a firm, double-handed grip and a big grin while his wife Lois looked on and smiled. Then during the message, he took copious notes in tiny, wobbly script on the tithe envelope as if he truly wanted to remember to go home and apply every word.

I've met Carl and Lois before. They faithfully attend our church and are there even at the mid-week services. They get down on their arthritic knees and pray together during our prayer times. They whisper to each other during the sermon and I've heard them say "Now that was a good word!" more than once. I love to watch them!

But this morning, as I casually kept glancing over at him, I wondered about Carl. I wondered just what the words "My name is written on His heart" mean to him. How has God proven Himself faithful in his long life? What sins can he remember that God had pardoned? What comfort did he feel as he sang "One with Himself I cannot die?" Was he looking back over his marriage of 60+ years and remembering God's forgiveness and fresh starts? Parenting struggles? Personal battles?

The message this morning was on the wood, hay and stubble we often pursue when God always prioritizes the eternal. One day, both Carl and I will stand before the judgment seat - before the throne of God above - and everything in our lives that wasn't lived out of obedience to Christ, in His service and with love will be toast. It makes me want to live with purpose. On purpose. To sing with conviction. To study and learn right up to the end. To be able to know that I've tried to live to please my God and not my Self.

Thank you, Carl, for sitting next to me this morning and for somehow speaking to me without any words at all.

1 comment:

adornedlife said...

oh how i love this hymn! (we sang it this sunday too!) it will be sung at my funeral as it tells all there is to tell. i loved every word of your post and the perspective of someone like carl who is near to seeing the savior of which we sang face to face! beautiful picture, too.

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