In chapel at Southern seminary two weeks ago I had an interesting experience that gave me a new insight into worship and confession. Since Anna’s death, we have found worship difficult. Listening to the word of God preached has always been a blessing. It is often difficult, but it is always good. Singing music has been more difficult and not always as much of a blessing. We have found much of the music more banal than we did before Anna’s death. It expresses a faith far too casual and breezy for where we are right now.
But once in a while we come across a hymn that expresses in a full and meaningful manner what is happening in our hearts and minds right now. This happened to me at the chapel service. We were singing a hymn that was new to me. The strong confession of faith in the hymn caused my thoughts to turn to Anna and her own faith and the way that God justified, sanctified, and glorified Anna. I began singing the hymn louder but changed the pronouns from first person to third person, and instead of singing about my own faith in God’s salvation, I began singing about Anna’s faith in God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. For some reason, the faith expressed in the hymn became more solid, more objective, when it was said about someone else than when it was said about me. It lost some of the sentimentality and self-interest that my words about my own faith had, and took on a firmness as I considered what God had done for Anna. Here is the hymn with the words changed to reflect Anna’s life and faith:
Before the throne of God alone
She has a strong, a perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for her
Her name is graven on His hands
Her name is written on His heart
She knows that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid her thence depart.
When Satan tempts her to despair
And tells her of the guilt within
Upward she looks and sees Him there
Who made an end of all her sin
Because the sinless Savior dies
Her sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon her.
Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
Her perfect spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I Am
The King of Glory and of Grace
One with Himself she cannot die
Her soul is purchased by His blood
Her life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ her Savior and her Lord.