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More Love to Thee

The following hymn, which gained popularity during the 1870’s, was written by Elizabeth Prentiss after two of her children died suddenly of illness in 1856.

Elizabeth, struggling with thoughts of God’s unfairness and in profound grief, was told by her husband that, “Love can keep the soul from going blind.”  Understanding that God is love, and seeing that increased devotion toward him was the solution to her grief, she penned the following verses that would become part of the widely published hymn, “More Love to Thee.”

Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek,
Give what is best;
This all my prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work,
Send grief and pain,
Sweet are Thy messengers,
Sweet their refrain.
When they can sing with me:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

I have been asking the Lord to draw me closer to him, but secretly hoping that it would not involve stress, pain, or struggle. Shortly before reading the above hymn, I read in Hebrews 12:5-11 the following instructions:

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;  For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Possibly the Lord is preparing me for chastening, or considering my recent discouragement, helping me through it. Verses 12-13 follow with this encouragement:

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

Faltering Fellowship

I have experienced a life of rich friendships and sweet fellowships. I have relationships with beloved siblings in Christ all over the United States and in distant countries as well. God has greatly blessed me in this area. But maintaining fellowship can be difficult, and it is not always possible to maintain all fellowships.

I’ve identified three types of “faltering fellowships” in my life. The first is a fellowship damaged due to personality conflict. As sad as it is to admit it, there are some believers I don’t get along with and as long as I’m in the flesh I probably never will. I know I should love them, and maybe I do, but I don’t really like them. There are various reasons but that’s beyond the scope of this post. Needless to say, this is probably the most damaged of the three faltering fellowship but not necessarily the most irreparable.

The second faltering fellowship is due to distance. It’s hard to maintain a strong fellowship over long distances and time. Some of my fellowships that are in this category tend to pick up right where they left off when last we met, but communication between those rare meetings is sparse. I experience this type of faltering fellowship the most, though it is also the least damaged and easiest to repair. It is mainly an issue of determination and discipline in communications.

The third faltering fellowship is due to exclusivity. What I mean by this is that strong relationships with friends of the opposite sex have been diminished in order to respect the exclusivity of my relationship with my wife. I have seen the awful carnage that an inappropriate friendship can wreak on a marriage and I believe with all my heart that exclusivity is needed. This is the most irreparable of the three faltering fellowships because it is necessary, voluntary, and barring some tragedy, permanent.  I hesitate to call this type of relationship damaged. I think that diminished describes it best.

The amazing part of all this is that these pride damaged, long distant, and deliberately dimmed relationships will be fixed one day. There is a brother in [redacted] whose legalism has damaged his relationship with his family, with the body of Christ, and with me. [Redacted], we are both going to be in heaven sometime in the next 60 years or so, and I’m elated with the recognition that our relationship will be not only be repaired, it will be intimate. Praise God!

Those of you my friends, separated by the gulfs of time, space, and propriety, we will soon be in a place where distance, time, and temptation is irrelevant. I can’t tell you how happy I will be to see you there!