The older I become, the more I am extremely aware of how desperately wicked my heart is. Have you ever felt or thought like this? Now, I’m a person who loves music with a beat … lively music. Many of the modern Christian songs have that … but one thing we can’t get away from is the doctrine and theology of the “old fashion songs (hymns). One classic is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” written in 1757 by Robert Robinson who was–believe it or not–22 years old at the time. One author said when commenting on this song:
In the hymn’s lyrics is a line that always captures my attention and forces me to do some self-evaluation. The line says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” I feel that way sometimes. Too often I find myself distracted and drifting, instead of having my heart and mind focused on the Savior who loves me and gave Himself for me. Robert Robinson and I are not alone in this.
The verse containing the lyrics above goes like this:
O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.
In this verse, Robert Robinson points out his dependence upon God for the debt of His amazing grace; his need to be boxed in and tied to that grace (goodness); because he is bent on wandering away from God’s love; he dedicates himself to God, seeking the assurance of eternal security. The reality is that all believers tend to be like this … and, as said above, the older I become the more I am aware of just how much attention I need to dedicate to my daily relationship with God … how much more time and energy I need spending in God’s presence to prevent wandering and “[leaving] the God I love”. And let’s face it … it’s not the big sins that are the issue here … it’s those small sins that creep in! You don’t notice the crumbs on the carpet very easily. This is true of those small sins. You don’t notice how easy it is to pile up theses sin (crumbs) until it’s too late!
I was staggered to learn that Robert Robinson was only 22 years old when he wrote this song. At that tender age he had immense spiritual perception. He was able to discern the heart … his own heart … and as he did, what he realizes is so true of you and me! So how does one protect oneself from this proneness to wander and leave God? In Proverbs 4, we find the answer:
Pr 4:20 My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
You need to guard your heart … protect your heart because your heart is the source of your life … the heart, meaning the soul! How do you guard or protect the heart (soul)? Verses 20 & 21 give us the answer … You protect the heart with the Word of God. You pay attention, you listen closely, not letting the Word out of sight … rather holding it in your heart! You protect the heart from wandering by filling the heart with the Word of God and keeping the Word right there in the heart! Verses 24-27 show us what happens when the heart is protected. In place of speaking sin, looking to sin, walking into sin, you will be able to restrain yourself from the ‘evil’ that surrounds, thus protecting the heart (soul). You will not be as prone to wander!
Why is this so necessary? Simply because we might think we are able to resist wickedness … but we can’t. We are groomed throughout life to minimize sin, call it something else, blame it on others … but God sees reality! The sin is ours and that sin is offensive to God! Friend, our deception runs deep … Look at Jeremiah’s words:
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
That is reality! You don’t understand your heart, your sinful nature, your capability to rebel nor your proneness to wander! You cannot see the gravity of your corruption and your inability to heal yourself. You just cannot understand the depth of depravity you find in yourself! Yet God understands your impossible condition … though for Him it is not impossible–He is able to cure it, for He alone is the great Spiritual Surgeon. He can perform the greatest operation ever by taking a dead soul and making it alive. He alone is able to resurrect a dead soul to life through the blood sacrifice of Jesus as He applies those merits to your heart through the Holy Spirit! Only He is able to take those dead, dry, lifeless bones and breathe life into them (Ezekiel 37). Surely then, the assurance that you belong to Jesus comforts and motivates you to stop wandering?
Look at the last verse of the song:
O that day when freed from sinning, I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen, how I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry, take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry me to realms of endless day.
My beloved in Christ, the great Reformed Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is reflected in this last verse of the song. May you too have such assurance that one day you will be with Christ in glory.
Dear God, thank You that although I’m prone to wander from You, my God whom I love, You hold me in the palm of your hand and none shall pluck me out of that safe, eternal, loving grasp. Amen.