There’s a song that I’ve been singing in church since I was a kid. It used to be a standard, but since the influx of a lot more praise and worship music, maybe it’s gotten lost a little. Here’s a video that pretty much sounds the way it did when I was a kid:
I admit, we used to sing the crap out of this song at my home church. I’d be sitting there on Sunday morning thinking about lunch, and we’d be going into our tenth stanza of this song, waiting for someone to walk the aisle. Sometimes they actually did. Billy Graham claims to have walked the aisle and decided to follow Christ during the singing of this song. It’s been played probably millions of times, I’ve unintentionally memorized the words.
I didn’t realize how deep this song is.
Probably because my memories of it are tied to standing around singing when I wanted to be eating pizza.
We sang this song at my church yesterday, like bringing an old letterman jacket out of a box in the attic. It’s been updated, the beat has been tweaked. It’s modernized, but the lyrics were left alone. I caught this lyric, and it resounded deep in my heart because it’s pretty much where I am:
Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Really, the language isn’t similar to what we’re used to. That can make the meaning a little hard to catch. Do you see what I missed? Here’s the paraphrase in my mind: “I’m torn. I don’t know what I believe anymore. I have SERIOUS questions. It’s tearing me up, I feel like I’m against myself sometimes. But I’m here, and being present is just about all I can manage.”
This gives us comfort, I think. I read the backstory on this song, and the lady who penned it was struggling with feelings of worthlessness in the kingdom. She thought she had no purpose. She agonized over these feelings, and the result was a poem which became this song.
Even the order of the verses of this song lend an insight to the process she went through. She starts by talking about the blood of Christ and the cleansing power of redemption. But then, abruptly, she takes a sharp turn: “I’m conflicted. I doubt. I fear. I’m afraid.”
There are four more verses after that which seem to respond: “You’re all I need. I believe you. Your love breaks through, I belong to you.”
This is a picture of a person agonizing with their faith, not a person who looks for short answers so they can move on with their life. Faith is a big deal and God is a big God, shouldn’t it be hard to digest sometimes?
Many of us don’t have the patience for wrestling with these issues. Things that are difficult are quickly cast aside, things that require learning are passed by. We give up on the answer we need because we lose faith that we should have ever asked to start with.
The call of Jesus isn’t like that though. He told the rich to sell all their stuff. He told people that if they had to bury the dead, they were dead themselves. Then he flipped it around and said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I have to think that a few people were standing on the side saying, “he needs to quit smoking something.”
Not everybody gets Jesus. Not all Christians get Jesus, but it’s important that you show up. “Oh Lamb of God, I come” really is sometimes all you have to offer. Not because you have something to offer, you’re an empty vessel no matter what you have. Definitely not because you have things figured out. Jesus realizes how he made us, and that our minds need time to process things we don’t get at first.
So wrestle. Even if you’re entering the lightweight division, don’t be afraid of doubts and fear. Pretending like you don’t have them won’t solve the problems, hold on until you get an answer from God. Read, study, listen. Pray.