For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Speak, O Lord – Do We Mean It?

Over the last several months there is a song that has quickly become one of my favorite hymns:  Keith Getty and Stuart Townend’s “Speak, OLord. (I know, it’s been around awhile and I’m behind, but anyway…)

If you haven’t heard this wonderful hymn, here are the lyrics:

“Speak, O Lord”
1. Speak, O Lord, as we come to you  
To receive the food of your Holy Word.
Take Your Truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness;
That the light of Christ may be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
all your purposes for Your glory.

2. Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility.
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
in the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise, cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow’r that can never fail;
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

3. Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us.
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time,
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises;
And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, ‘til Your church is built,
and the earth is filled with Your glory.

I think this is a wonderful prayer for the church, one that we ought to have in our hearts every time we come to God’s Word, every time we gather for worship and to hear that Word proclaimed…Speak, O Lord.

But as I’ve thought about it, I wonder if we mean it even when we say it.  Because usually when God does speak, it requires some change in our lives in order to be conformed to that word.  It’s one thing to say we want to hear a word from God, that we want God to speak.  It’s one thing to say, “Speak, O Lord.” It’s another to be willing to follow what He says, to be obedient.

A lot of us say we want to hear from God.  We find ourselves in this or that predicament, and we say, “If God would just tell me what to do.”  Or we’re looking for direction in this or that decision and we say, “If God would just show me which decision to make.”  Or we just want to know His will in general, and we think, “Oh, if God would just speak to me.”

That all sounds great.  But are we really seeking Him and His will for His glory.  Or are we just wanting God to show up and do our will, confirm our ideas, give us the green light to do and believe what we wanted in the first place?  Do we desire His will?  And do our actions show that our desire is truly for His will?

How often do we make plans based on our ideas, based on worldly wisdom, based on pragmatic ideas of “what works,”  and then once we’ve made our plans, then we go to God and say, “OK, God, here are our plans, would you please bless these plans for us?” Is that how things are supposed to work?  Is that what the song says?   “Teach us Lord, full obedience.  Take your truth, plant it deep in us, shape and fashion us in your likeness.” His truth, shaping us.  Not quite the same thing, is it?

Another hymn we sing, “wherever He leads I’ll go.”  We sing it over and over, “Wherever He leads I’ll go.”  But do we mean it?  Do we really desire His will?  So often, we say we want to hear from God and when He speaks our reaction is, “Whoa, that’s not what I wanted to do.”

“God, speak to me and tell me what direction to go.”  God says, “Sell everything you own and move to the mission field.”  Wait a minute, that’s not what I meant.

“God, speak to me and show me your plans for my life.”  God says, “My plan is for you to live at poverty level, barely eeking out a living, struggling to pay your bills, so that I can demonstrate to those around you what it looks like to live in total dependence on Me for your every need.”  Whoa, I thought we were all supposed to be wealthy and comfortable.

Paul prays repeatedly, “God, speak to me and remove this thorn, this messenger of Satan sent to torment me.”  God says, “Paul, my grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Not the answer he was looking for, I’m sure.

Do we really want God to speak?  Are we listening for His voice? Do we recognize His voice as distinct from those false voices that surround us every day?  And do we truly desire His will, for His glory?  Are we His servants?  Are we willing to be obedient even if it’s not what we wanted, even if it’s not popular in the world in which we live? 

“Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us all your purposes for Your glory.”  I hope that is our daily prayer; I hope it is my daily prayer; and I truly hope we mean it. 

If for some reason you've not heard it, here is Keith and Kristyn Getty leading in worship with this wonderful hymn. 


Gregg said...

I read your post thoughtfully and think you did a good job as usual. However, I have two problems with the concept.

First, as a cessationist I don't believe God ever speaks. He has spoken to us through His Son (Heb) and through the Word. I know this can be a matter of semantics for some, I know what they mean. I even know what the non-cessationists mean.

Second, here is my real issue. Why are we singing "Speak Lord," when we have an entire NT full of His speaking that we aren't doing already.

Shouldn't we be singing, "I Will Lord," or " I will obey" or "Let me work on what you have already given me to do."

I am not and will judge the Getty's motive nor yours, since Scripture forbids that, but I wonder if this isn't one for feel good emotional "hit" that deceives us into thinking we are looking to hear from God when we really aren't?

Just wondering.

Scott said...

Gregg, by "speak" I don't mean some "new" word, and I don't think the Getty's intend that either. The emphasis is on God speaking through His Word, as the intro in the video points out. I should hope that as we enter into worship, as the preacher opens the Word of God to us, that God would truly "speak" to us through that Word, applying His truth to us, making us obedient to it. That's the intent, anyway. Sorry if there is any confusion. For the record, I'm also a cessationist.

Pat Donovan said...

I lkied it.

drhambrick said...

We begged God to speak to us and reveal himself to us, and he sent us Jesus, and we didn't like it... what else is new?