Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hide Me Behind the Cross (II)

Here are the lyrics.

Verse 1

Lord as I seek to serve You,
May You find in me what's pleasing to Your heart.
I leave my will at Calvary,
Taking on a nature humbled by Your scars.

For I know it's only through Your love,
That who I am is hidden by Your grace.
Let my desires be overshadowed,
As I recall the purpose of that place.


Hide me behind the cross,
Where my gains become as loss.
And only Your glory is in view.

Your power will be revealed
The more that I am concealed.
Hide me behind the cross
So the world sees only You.

Verse 2

If I rely on my strength
To be a source of hope for those in need,
The only profit I would gain
Would be the empty honor of my deeds.
But with all of self behind Your cross,
The splendor of Your love stands free to shine.
Illuminating with Your power,
Reaching souls so You alone are glorified.

Now, I would be the last to claim that this is high poetry. But when I heard the song for the first time in the car the other day (from this station), it really struck me.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has repeatedly felt a desire to be of value to other people coupled with a sense of gloom about the probable outcome. "I'll probably annoy so-and-so, or not put it right, or something." And a parent feels this in spades. I don't know about other parents in my wide reading audience, but it happens an uncountable number of times a week that I feel it my duty to tell one of my girls to do things differently, or I have to explain something that they don't understand, and they are annoyed. Mom is the nit-picker. Mom explains about everything from table manners to moral views. Mom has to decide exactly what punishment to mete out to Youngest Daughter (age 5) for, say, lying about whether she did or whether she did not spit on the piano bench and scratch the softened finish off with her fingernails. This is not a popular position to be in. And often the time comes when one just wants to say, "I'm doing more harm than good. I don't know how to do this right."

Now, the Bible, especially in the Pauline epistles, contains plenty of talk about this very odd idea that we do not do things ourselves, that in some sense Christ lives through us. This would no doubt creep out the New Atheist crowd very seriously. "So you mean you're, like, possessed by your imaginary friend?" One can just hear them. Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Wouldn't it be a tremendous relief to be hidden behind the cross? Okay, so we can't literally get out of that human stuff. One still has to tell the kids what to do, to try to be wise about guiding them and reproving them. One still has to try to find the right words to say in a blog thread, or to make the right decision about when and how to give the other guy the last word. We still have to try to get it right, and we still have the fear of failure. But if, somehow, all that could be given to Our Lord, and he could be invited truly to live his life out through me, it seems like it ought to make a difference.

It comes back, I suppose, to that uncomfortable stuff about the practice of the presence of Christ. Would I say this, would I do that, would I refuse to do this other thing, if I were truly conscious that Jesus is here, with me, within me, and that I am supposed to be his hands and feet, not to mention mouth, in the world?

Yikes. So maybe this idea about being hidden behind the cross isn't such a relief after all. Maybe it just raises the stakes.

I think, myself, it's both a relief and a challenge. And that's why I like the song.


alaiyo said...

Thanks for posting this, Lydia.

Parenting is the hardest and most agonizing job there is. I look back -- my oldest is 32, my youngest just started college -- and I wonder that any of them survived my pathetic attempts. (A couple of them might not have; I have no idea how much the failures of one's children reflect one's own failures. There must be a correlation, but at some point an adult must take responsibility for his or her own life, too.)

I certainly didn't know how to hide behind the Cross, how to let Christ live in me. But I wanted to do well! And I believe that He took that desire and brought at least some good from it. And I hope, too, that maybe I've grown a little bit over the years, learned to be confident in Christ instead of fearful in myself, not complacent about my own sin but not constantly angsting about being human and imperfect, either.

God bless you, Lydia, as you walk through these years, raising your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. May you give and receive much joy!


Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks, Beth. And you are quite right. Angsting (good word) is not productive at all. Love is in the act, not in thinking about acting.