Whilst reading A.W. Tozer’s biography I came across a quote which captured my attention: ‘After the Bible, the next most valuable book is a good hymnal. Let every new Christian spend a year prayerfully meditating on the hymns of Wesley and Watts alone, and he or she will become a fine theologian.’
Though I wouldn’t claim that ‘becoming a fine theologian’ was my primary goal, I did take his advice to heart and spend some time prayerfully pondering several classic hymns. Doing so, I saw them in a fresh light. It was such a blessing! What stood for to me was how their lyrics contained so much truth; so much substance! These songs weren’t construed out of empty, catchy phrases. They conveyed something of the depth of the writer’s relationship with God; of a profound understanding of who God is and how He works. In the days following this exercise the subject of ‘substance’ lingered in my mind.
Perhaps it impacted me so much because the depth and substance I found in these hymns stands in stark contrast to the superficiality which characterises our current age. Sadly, superficiality in nearly everything we do marks much of modern activity.
With the dramatic rise of social media we may engage in activities such as ‘following someone on Twitter’ or ‘reading someone’s status update on Facebook’. Of course there’s nothing wrong with these things in themselves, and I, too, am a grateful user of the internet and its services. But, when human relationships are increasingly characterised by fleeting and superficial electronic interaction, beware! Don’t forget these are a far cry from the depth of relationship we can have, as we spend time with others, in fun, fellowship, and meaningful conversation.
Our human hearts yearn for, and are nurtured by, meaningful relationships. This is how God created us. Likewise, our relationship with our heavenly Father is meant to be deep and meaningful. It should contain something which we can rightly call ‘substance’. If we import today’s trend towards superficiality into our relationship with our Creator, we will lose out. Besides, God Himself isn’t going to be content if we merely give Him our ‘daily status update’. He desires to have a true and meaningful relationship with each of His children.
Reading through some of these old hymns was a powerful reminder to me to ensure that I pursue God with all my heart and that I don’t settle for a superficial or empty relationship with Him. A good relationship will require the essential inputting of certain ingredients, in this case: quality time of worship and adoration, quality time of studying His word, and quality time in prayer. Through the wonderful heritage of these saintly hymn writers I’m envisioned again, to make sure that my relationship with God contains depth and substance. Who’s with me?
Prayer: Father in heaven, help me not to settle for second best when it comes to my relationship with You. Help me to want You and pursue You with all my heart. Help me to grow into a person of substance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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