May 25, 2011

“It Is Well With My Soul” and the sea billows of brokenness and restoration

Posted in Devotionals, Hymns / Songs / Lyrics at 9:10 pm by Sarah Bosse

I’m walking through an intense journey right now where God is shining light on many hidden, locked-away areas in my life. What’s being made known is often painful just by its nature, other times the result of sin – my own sin and/or the sin(s) of others, filled with guilt and shame. And the whole process is, at times, both humbling and bewildering.

Hopefully, in time, I will find it to be comforting as well – that the God who calls for my personal sanctification brings about the means of its accomplishment through the Holy Spirit, and that He is the One at the root of it all. My friend asked me today if I was saying, “Ouch, Hallelujah!” to the Lord yet. At the moment, I think I’m still in the “Ouch” stage.

But I am encouraged to see how the Holy Spirit speaks to me as I bring my sin, my guilt, my pain, to the Throne of God. One of the ways God often encourages me is through hymns and music. My mind is like a perpetual tape player, always recording soundbites (if only I could remember when your birthday was or what you told me to do 30 seconds ago!), especially music and commercials (one reason I don’t watch TV – I don’t want to be singing “Like a good neighbor State Farm is there” insurance jingles for 36 hours straight in my mind). So songs I sang or heard 10, 20 years ago, are lodged in the deep sulci of my brain. Some of those, however, require the Holy Spirit to retrieve.

Anyways, “It Is Well With My Soul” has always been one of my favorites. It’s helped me weather so many storms, both physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. But now I hear a few more notes and melodies ring true through these beloved verses that I’ve never heard before.

I often saw the sea billows and sorrows as external circumstances, which they very well may also be. But now they take on a new meaning to me. They may be sea billows of grief or pain, sorrows for sins committed and the effects of the sins on God, others, and myself. And these waves and sorrows may be as deep or deeper than any external circumstances. Satan’s buffet’s attack God’s character and my identity in Christ. The trials are doubts. How will I stand? Firm, in God’s grace, in faith, despite fears and doubts, in the armor of God? God’s word is available and it really does teach me that my soul’s security is sure and as steadfast as the Lord’s own faithfulness (as it is rooted in the same).

Regardless of the Enemy’s arrows and the pains I have taken to add to my own life through sin, there is a blessed assurance that Jesus is mine and that he knew me fully from the Beginning, in my wretchedness, in my inability to help myself or improve my situation in the slightest. And knowing all of this fully, from the Beginning (before He created me or anything which He has created), He planned and then actually did spill His blood for me until death. (Isn’t it amazing that BEFORE I was created in 1980-something, He loved me so much that He died before I was even born, for me?…and you?) And being helpless, as I am, He paid for every bit of my rebellion.

It is no longer mine to bear. Indeed, if there is not one thing in all creation over which God does not cry “MINE!” then that absolutely includes my sin, because Jesus BECAME sin who knew no sin — He became MY sin. And it is his to keep.

But rather than keeping it, rather than holding onto my sin as a token of my idolatry and asking me to pity the God I hated; ….oh! instead! He PAID for it, then CAST IT AWAY as far as the East is from the West, and in its place He established a covenant of love and protection over my soul, a promise that I may enter into the most holy place and be in the presence of my King. Therefore, it is truly WELL with my soul and I can praise the Lord, O my soul!

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

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