It’s a famous hymn, it’s origins dating back to Ireland some 1500 years ago. Believed to have been written by an Irish poet, St Dalian who had lost his sight and his lost vision inspired the opening line – “Be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart.”
But does this hymn, this prayer have an application to us today? What does it actually for God to be our eyes?
It simply means that we would see the world as God sees it. That we would take on God’s perspective when we look at our life.
That means taking the facts – that health report, that financial situation, the facts of that relationship and adding God into the equation. It means magnifying God over all our circumstances. It also means looking at others like God would look at them – with love, with compassion and focusing on who they’re called to be not where they are now. It means looking at our life, our world with an eternal perspective.
Rick Joyner once wrote “when we begin with the eyes of our hearts instead of just our natural eyes we not only being to see the things which are eternal but they become more real to us than the things which are temporary.”
The hymn is a prayer––a prayer that Christ will be our vision. That He would also be the wisdom in our lives, our best thought. That His presence would light our days.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
“Let us be silent, so that we may hear the whisper of God” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“His voice is the whisper after the noise” (Kalley Heiligenthal)
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
(1 Kings 19:11-12)
For Elijah, God was not to be found in the noise – the noise of the wind, the earthquake or the fire. God was found in the gentle whisper. Elijah expected to find Him in the noise. He was on the mountain where God had appeared with thunder and lightening to give the Ten commandments to Moses. This time God was not in the noise but in the quiet. What Elijah needed most was not a dramatic display of God’s power and might but encouragement and strength through a quiet conversation with God.
After the noise of our day God is waiting to be heard. His voice is still that gentle whisper, that still small voice. Our life may be jammed packed with noisy days and noisy distractions but when we step aside from the noise to soak and rest in His presence, we will hear Him. When we quieten our soul we can create a space that lets us hear His whisper. And we find that the peace of God comes. The peace that calms our anxieties, dispels our fears and stills our busy soul. We receive encouragement and wisdom to keep going.
A whisper is an invitation to lean in, to draw near. It is intimate and private. It creates a secret space – a sacred space. In quiet awe, in private communion our weary soul finds rest and refreshment. The soul takes to heart the call of God to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
“Make time for quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud.” (Unknown)
“And the heart must pause to breathe” (Lord Bryon)
In our fast paced and busy days we need to carve out time. Time to let our heart, our soul breathe. Time when we intentionally slow down – when we take ourselves away from our to-do lists, our phone notifications and the chatter of life. Quietness creates a space where our hearts can pause, can breathe, can be. The stillness creates space for God to speak to us. When we take the time to step aside from our busyness, our agendas, we find refreshment in God. We find rest. We are recharged and refuelled to go again. It is what sustains us. We don’t have to perform, strive or pretend. In the presence of the God who created us, who knew us before we were born, who knows our past, our future and our present, we can just be.
It’s the sitting in the sun in a comfy chair, the walk along the water’s edge. It’s the mountain top or the park bench. It’s the corner nook of a favourite café. Wherever it is, it is the pausing of the heart. It’s the waiting on God and the receiving of His grace.
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.” (Matthew 6:6 MSG)
“You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me.” (Psalm 119:114)
The heart pauses. The heart gives a sigh of relief. The heart breathes.
Apparently in French you don’t say “I miss you.” You say “tu me manques” which means “you are missing from me.” I love that. It has so much more depth than just “I miss you.” It suggests that you aren’t complete without the other person. That they are of real significance to you and their absence has an impact on your life.
It makes me think that my 4 year old may have a little French in him. Earlier this year I went on a week long business trip to the States (that’s a long time for a little 4 year old). Ever since then interchangeably with him saying “I love you” he started saying and still often says “I missed you in America”. To him it’s one and the same. When he says I missed you, he is saying I love you.
St Augustine wrote at the start of his confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” For me it is a perfect translation of sorts of “tu me manques.’ We are restless when God is missing from our lives. We have a God shaped hole that we seek to fill. It is a yearning that is infinite and unable to be quenched through worldly means. Peace comes, rest comes, completeness comes when we find God.
“My soul is yearning for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1)
“O God, you are my God, for you I long” (Psalm 63:1)