Devotional,  Life

My Resting Place: Encouragement from Ancient Hymns

Lately the devil has been trying his hardest to get a foothold in my mind. He knows that’s where I struggle and battle, and he knows that if he can plant just a little seed of anxiety or doubt, that it’s pretty certain to bloom into something that will tear me down. And he’s got PLENTY of things to choose from. Just this year we’ve dealt with COVID, a contentious election, civil unrest, and riots. So much unknown.

I was encouraged, as my Jesus promises He will do, as I was cleaning the house the other day. A playlist of hymns sung by modern artists was on in the background, and the words of this particular one jumped out of the background and into the forefront of my mind. I knew the hymn, but really hadn’t stopped to listen to what it really said. But when I did, I found so much encouragement and a million signs pointing me in the right direction, right back to Jesus.

“My Faith Has Found A Resting Place” was written in 1891 by Eliza Hewitt. She was injured as a young adult and forced to retire from teaching. She went on, though, to write quite a few hymns and stay involved with the local orphanage.

I couldn’t help but smile when I found out this was written by a woman. Not because I’m a huge feminist, but because women and men feel things differently, and it was evident that there were kindred emotions being communicated through the verses.

Not that men should write off this hymn as something they would never understand. Far from the opposite! It’s pretty obvious that a dude wrote “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (Martin Luther, if you’re curious), but the message transcends to all people.

So I thought I’d share her lyrics with you today, and just elaborate on how they’ve helped me refocus and place my faith in the right place.

“My faith has found a resting place, not device or creed. I trust the ever living One; His wounds for me shall plead.”

Device or creed. Not really words we use a lot today, unless your talking about the latest iPhone or Rocky movie. While I could make a case for our faith resting too much in our smart phones, I don’t think that’s what the author means.

A creed is defined as a “system, doctrine, or formula or religious belief, as of a denomination.” That doesn’t sound bad does it? It probably isn’t, and many times creeds are very important markers of what we believe as Christians. But ultimately our faith, along with our religious practices, should rest in the work that Jesus did for us on the cross. We can lose sight of the main thing if not.

There are several definitions for ‘device’, but the one that seemed most applicable was “something elaborately or fancifully designed”. Again, there isn’t anything wrong with having nice things, but is our contentment riding on having the newest and the best? Or is it resting on the finished work or Jesus, knowing that He is truly the most valuable part of our lives?

“Enough for me that Jesus saves, this ends my fear and doubt. A sinful soul I come to Him; He’ll never cast me out. I need no other argument, I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me.”

I know I’m not the only one out there who ever feels fear or doubt, or feels like there isn’t enough something in me to succeed. What I love so much about these lyrics is that it reminds me that there is nothing in me that will ever be enough. My ‘enough-ness’ comes from Jesus saving me. Period. Not Jesus plus me.

I can proudly say I am enough, but not because of anything innately good about me. It’s only because Jesus saved me, promised to never leave me, and transferred His ‘enough’ status to me when I didn’t deserve it. Talk about an affirmation to remember….”It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.” Proudly proclaim it until you believe it!

“My heart is leaning on the Word, the Written Word of God. Salvation by my Savior’s name, Salvation through His blood.”

My heart can tell me so many different things, some true but most not. The more my heart is immersed in the Word of God, the more truth my heart knows. But that requires actually opening it up and reading it, which is sometimes easier said than done.

Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve lost a good amount of weight. I’ve had several people come up to me and say “What’s your secret?” And I have to answer with the most cliché answer ever. Diet and exercise. I started watching what I ate, changed a lot of overall eating habits, and carved out about 30-45 minutes almost every day to exercise. Then the weight just fell off.

But no one wants to hear that. They want to know that one magical step that can let them step around the work of changing bad habits. They want a quick fix.

The same is true for growing closer to Jesus. There isn’t some magic trick to having the peace He offers in your heart, to feeling enough in Him, to ending your fear and doubt. After accepting His salvation and making Him Lord of your life, the only way to grow is to do the cliché thing. Read your Bible, pray, and go to church. It’s that simple. You may have to alter plans, set your alarm a little bit earlier, adjust some daily habits. But stop searching for that one magical thing that will fix the emptiness and fear, and go to the things that have proven effective for years. And just keep doing them even when it’s hard.

What can you do today to make sure that your faith is resting in the most sure place possible? Maybe we need to turn from some earthly devices or creeds and look back to Jesus ultimate sacrifice as assurance. Maybe it means realizing that we are not enough without Jesus, that He’s the only ‘enough’ thing in us. Maybe it’s stepping back to the basics- opening our Bibles, making church a priority, or spending intentional time in prayer.

Whatever it may be, I pray it takes you one step closer to being able to say that your faith has found a solid resting place in a shaky world.

Your thoughts?