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Friday, September 5, 2014

O let me hear thee speaking
in accents clear and still,
above the storms of passion,
the murmurs of self-will;
O speak to reassure me,
to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen,
thou guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, thou hast promised
to all who follow thee
that where thou art in glory
there shall thy servant be.
And, Jesus, I have promised
to serve thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow,
my Master and my friend.

John Ernest Bode’s “O Jesus, I Have Promised” (tune: Angel’s Story)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal


Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn’t see their thoughts as belonging to them. When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love. Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy, but now they call this free will. At least the ancient Greeks were being honest.

Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk

John Ernest Bode wrote the text of “O Jesus, I Have Promised” to mark the confirmation of his daughter and his two sons. This beautiful plea on his children’s behalf, to the Savior they have vowed to follow, is a beautiful encapsulation of the search for help, comfort, and assurance that begins when a believer decides to dedicate her or his life to following Jesus.

Bode must have been proud of his children on this special occasion, but also somewhat sad and fearful on their behalf as well, for as a dedicated man of faith himself, he must have known that a life of discipleship is full of challenges and struggles as well. During the Victorian era in which he lived, with England at a fever pitch of modern industrial development, what parent would not have been concerned for the ways in which a child might be swayed away from a solid relationship with God by the “storms of passion” or the “murmurs of self will?”

In our own time author Chuck Pahlaniuk has also questioned our ability to exercise our free will and sound judgment because of a world that seeks to trick us into doing what marketers or corporations would have us do. Are we not equally in need of someone to cry out to the guardian of our souls, “O let me hear thee speaking in accents clear and still?” If we could hear that voice, even amid the confusion of the world around us, we might find in us the grace to follow Jesus and the assurance that we will be united in him in the world that God is making new.

Almighty God, whose glory rises high above the bustle of our world but whose love was willing to come right down into our messiness and to live in the person of Jesus, help me remain firm in my commitment to following you. Grant that I might hear your voice speaking clear and still in the depths of my heart, so that I might not be swayed too much by my own passions or the ways of the world, but instead be drawn always to do your will and to be close to you. Amen.

Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism

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