This is a wonderful promise – that God who gives light to the whole world, also shines light into our hearts. We come face to face with Him, and the darkness of sin and unbelief in which we once lived is replaced with a glory that is eternal. We are invited to abide in Him and cast away our godless fears for courage. We find that the troubles which once evoked uncertainty and fear are met with courage and trust. Life is somehow not “out of control.” The human heart is made secure – God is present and we know Him.
On the Sea of Galilee, Jesus calmed a storm while his disciples cowered at the threatening waves. Jesus was with them, He was physically in the boat; they were perfectly safe even as the storm raged. Sadly, the disciple’s fears were relieved only after the waves subsided. Then they asked, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Jesus was present with them, but they did not know Him. He meant for them to find peace in the midst of the storm. The faith that Jesus desired in them was found in Henry Lyte during his final months of life.
By his early fifties, a weakness in his lungs had developed into tuberculosis. A couple years later, at age 54, he preached his last sermon in the fishing village of Lower Brixham, England, knowing that he was soon to leave his flock and family for heavens shores. During the final two months of life he wrote Abide with Me, which expresses his cry to God and triumph of faith.
Life’s great trials come to each us. We could not know Him well enough without them. Many years ago, as a young man I was moved by the words of another hymn written by Lyte (when he was a young man) – Jesus I My Cross Have Taken. Through a life of ill health and service to God he lived these words. He was certainly well prepared for the final storm of life.
Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide. The darkness deepens; Lord with me Abide … Help of the helpless, O abide with me! [Verse 1]
Henry Lyte’s punctuating of this verse (i.e., “!”) reveals the earnestness and certainty that God alone would quell the fears and turmoil of his heart. Today we may not be experiencing this same struggle, but we all bear burdens. And oh, how we seek a quieting of our hearts.
I need thy presence every passing hour … who like thyself my guide and stay can be? [Verse 6]
We cry out to God for a wayward child, a continuing ailment or some other persistent difficulty. Even a broken refrigerator when we lack the financial means to fix it can be a great struggle. We find ourselves crying out to God! And then we remember to abide in Him.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless; ills have no weight, and fears no bitterness. Where is deaths sting? Where grave the victory? I triumph still, if thou abide with me. [Verse 7]
On September 4, 1847, after preaching his last sermon, Henry Lyte departed Brixham. That afternoon he walked along the coastline to pray and consider his shortening days and those he would leave behind. That evening he completed the hymn Abide with Me. During his travel to a warmer, more therapeutic climate, he revised it and sent it to his daughter. Lyte never reached Italy. He died in Nice, France, where his song was first sung, at his funeral.
God calls us to abide with Him – we have a “safe harbor;” Jesus is in the Boat! This is not to say that we do not struggle and cry out and again cry out to God – we do! But there is no despair in our cries – and Jesus brings calm to us as he did the waves on Galilee.
There are many words that express this abiding, but words alone are not very tangible. An abiding fellowship with God is the one tangible experience in life which will carry us through the storms and calms of life. On this Sabbath day, whatever may be the look of the sea, may your heart be full of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God and may you abide in Him!
Hear it read here: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/abide-with-me/
Abide with me! Fast falls the Eventide;The darkness thickens. Lord, with me abideWhen other helpers fail, and comforts flee,Help of the helpless, O abide with me!
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away:Change and decay in all around I see.O Thou who changest not, abide with me!
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;But as Thou dwellst with thy disciples, Lord,Familiar, condescending, patient, free, —Come, not to sojourn, but abide with me.
Come not in terrors, as the King of kings;But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.Come, Friend of sinners and thus bide with me.
Thou on my head in early youth did smile,And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.On to the close, O Lord, abide with me!
I need thy presence every passing hour.What but thy grace can foil the Tempter’s power?Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?Through cloud and sunshine, O, abide with me!
I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless;Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.Where is death’s sting? where grave thy victory?I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold then thy cross before my closing eyes;Speak through the gloom, and point me to the skies.Heaven’s morning breaks, and Earth’s vain shadows flee!In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!