I apologize for the length of time since my last post. Demanding deadlines and increasing commitments have made my time prime. When my schedule is so full, I don’t feel I can spare time for blogging. I also tend to avoid blogging when I feel discouraged because I don’t want my negative attitude to leak into my writing and darken it like black dye permeating a bucket of clear water.
When my outlook seemed its bleakest, a remarkable opportunity for a private retreat appeared possible and I was able to fit it into my schedule. I left on Monday morning and returned on Wednesday afternoon.
Before I even packed, I found myself praying:
Lord, speak to me that I may speak in living echoes of Thy love…
A dear friend who knew I was going sent an email saying she was praying:
That God would speak to me…
Almost as an afterthought, I placed a Psalter Hymnal into my suitcase beside my Literary Study Bible, thinking that I might want to look up a hymn if it related to anything I might write.
The “Lord, speak to me” refrain went through my mind as I praised and prayed on the drive. I prayed that God would speak to me and that I would be able to speak to others in “living echoes” of His love. I prayed that I might somehow reach the lost as well as encourage believers. The refrain went through my mind so often on the drive and after my arrival that I looked up the hymn on my second day at the retreat. These are the lyrics:
Lord, speak to me, that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone;
As Thou hast sought, so let me seek
Thine erring children lost and lone.
O teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious things Thou dost impart;
And wing my words that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.
O lead me, Lord, that I may lead
The wandering and the wavering feet;
O feed me, Lord, that I may feed
The hungering ones with manna sweet.
O strengthen me, that while I stand
Firm on the Rock and strong in Thee,
I may stretch out a loving hand
To wrestlers with the troubled sea.
O use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where;
Until Thy blessed face I see,
Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.
As I read the words of the first stanza of this hymn, it seemed to me that God was encouraging me that He will make me speak in “living echoes” of His tone (or love, as I had been thinking and praying) and that He will provide ways for me to reach His lost and lonely children.
Every subsequent stanza of the hymn seemed to apply specifically to me and my situation.
I’ve been developing speaking presentations and the second stanza seemed to be God telling me that He will teach me and provide opportunities for me to teach others His precious biblical truths. The second part of the stanza encourages me to believe that God will “wing my words” through my current oral and written communications–including this and other internet avenues that allow my words to fly through cyberspace–and perhaps even through book publications. And He will “wing my words” in such a way that they will touch the deeply hidden emotions in the hearts of many people.
While reading the third stanza, I was impressed that God will lead me and equip me to minister to the wandering and the wavering. He will equip me to provide sweet manna for their hungry souls.
I have been feeling particularly weak all spring and summer and God encouraged me through the fourth stanza that He will strengthen me so that I stand firmly and strongly on Him and His Word. With that firm footing, I will be equipped to reach out to those who wrestle with the turbulence and trials of living in cultures that rebel against God (the sea is a frequent biblical analogy for rebellious nations).
Through the last stanza, God assured me that He can use even sinful, weak me for His purposes. I was convicted of my need to submit unreservedly to the entirety of whatever God calls me to do, whenever and wherever He calls me to do it. God also assured me that He will see that I continue serving Him in whatever capacity I am able until He calls me home. Then I will see His blessed face and I will share in His rest, His joy, and His glory.
This song wasn’t the only way God spoke to me over the last few days; He refreshed and encouraged me with the kindness of others, with brisk walks in His beautiful creation, with long periods of uninterrupted prayer, and with solitary meditation on His Word. But He spoke specifically to me through the words of this hymn. My prayer now is that God will enable me to speak in “living echoes” of His great love.
One more (minor) thing: “Living Echoes” will be the title of a book I hope to write some day, Lord willing. I am going on record here and now because I was working on a manuscript titled “This Side of Heaven” when Karen Kingsbury came out with a book by that name. That was a disappointment I hope to avoid this time!