In Heavenly Love Abiding

To abide: Old English word signifying progressively to “await”, “remain”, “lodge”, “sojourn”, “dwell”, “continue”, “endure”.

One of the first hymns I ever sang as a soloist
(a lifetime ago) was, “In Heavenly Love Abiding”:
In heavenly love abiding
no change my heart shall fear;
And safe in such confiding,
for nothing changes here.
The storm may roar about me,
my heart may low be laid,
But God is round about me,
and can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me
no want shall turn me back.
My shepherd is beside me
and nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh;
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
and I will walk with Him.

Since then, and through many situations and trials, the truth of that hymn has never changed.  No matter what is happening around me, I am still surrounded by the love of God.  In my grief, He is my comforter.  In fear, He is my strength.  He provides my every need; He guides me through difficult decisions, and even if I am fearful about the future,
I know that He knows the end from the beginning in every circumstance… and I can trust Him.  In a time when the world I have known seems to be shattering into a million unfixable pieces, I can rest ~ can abide in His love and be at peace.

This is the essential message: God loves you.  He loves me.  He loves each and every human being on earth, and He wants us to love Him and to love one another.  That is the whole foundation of the Gospel.  He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to live among us and to show us what love looks like.  He loved us so much that Christ took my sins and yours on Himself and became sin for us, so that we might be restored to fellowship with the Father.  It was God’s love that spoke to us from the cross.  It is still God’s love that speaks to us in the Scriptures and encourages us to trust Him, to let Him into our lives so that He may give us the comfort and sustenance we so deeply need.  We only need to believe and follow, and He gives us everything of Himself.

There is another more modern and unconventional anthem, sung beautifully by the women of the Oasis Chorale (on YouTube).  It is called, “Even When He Is Silent”.  The lyrics are simple:
I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I feel it not.
I believe in God even when He is silent.

This is what our faith should be.  There are times when our lives are confusing.  Things happen which we don’t understand and which seem unfair.  As I look around at my church family, I don’t see one family without a problem of some kind.  It may be financial, or health related, or a child gone astray or age related.  It might be deep loneliness or a depression brought on by unchangeable circumstances.  Even in the midst of all these things, we can have peace because we have learned that even when He is silent, He is there.  The loneliness or depression is eased by the presence of the Lord in those dark moments of the soul.  We know by experience that He is there, and that in spite of all appearances, He loves us.  He will help us work through all these problems and even if some of them don’t end the way we would like, it is an opportunity to learn trust and submission.

If we will let Him, God will settle His love around us like a big warm shawl, enveloping us in its warmth and comfort.  I think it is significant that He presents Himself to us as a Father.  He is happy for us when we do well.  He wants us to succeed.  He encourages us, comforts us, disciplines and teaches us. He is the perfect model of a good father.  A good father loves his child unconditionally, even when the child doesn’t deserve it, and the child can abide in the knowledge of that unwavering love.  We are blessed so deeply that we may “await”, “remain”, “lodge”, “sojourn”, “dwell”, “continue”, “endure” in the love of God now and forever.

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