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Blessed Conviction and Be Thou My Vision

Tim Keller has a quote in a sermon I’ve listened to about fifteen times. He’s talking about a moment that I’d wager all Christians can relate to. In such a moment, a person hears something you’ve heard a countless times before, be it in a verse of a song, a Scripture, a quote, or from the mouth of your wise grandmother. For some reason, when you hear it this time, it “moves from the head to the heart.” It changes from “something you understand” to “something you stand under.” Have you ever had a moment like this? I have. It happened yesterday in church. 

We were singing Be Thou My Vision as a congregation. What could be more standard than that? I’ve done this dozens of times. But this time, this beautiful hymn washed over me with such conviction I lost my breath.

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

It wasn’t the kind of conviction that makes you want to hide like the first humans in the Garden. No, it was a blessed conviction that came with grace and peace and all things good. In this moment, while holding Rosie in our church service, I saw all the things that are my vision right now:

I see my children. They are both walking. They are both eating food. They are both communicating their needs and wants. They are happy. They are not sick. They know they are loved. They love each other and us as their parents. They are provided for. They have everything they need, medically, emotionally, physically. 

This morning when I was journaling about this blessed conviction, I told God that I could think of about ten things that seem oh, so worthy of being my vision. These things are listed above. What he told me was they cannot be my vision. He told me this with grace and peace and all things good.

It’s kind of like when I was sent home from the hospital with a newborn with a sick heart. We were told to “keep an eye on her and watch for signs of heart failure.” I was up every two hours to pump milk for her and during that time I would anxiously (and ironically) recite “Be anxious about nothing…” and then I’d say to God, “NOTHING?! REALLY?!” as I looked at this tiny gift who seemed like such a worthy object of anxiety to my flesh. 

“Really. Nothing.” he answered. 

Just as then I was to be anxious about nothing, now I must demote these visions to prayers. 

These hopes and dreams-turned prayers aren’t bad things. They aren’t unworthy of my thoughts or my time or my energy. But they cannot be the foundation around which I build my entire life. They cannot be my vision. They cannot hold up my entire life. Even if they come to pass, they cannot sustain. That is the difference.

They must be prayers. Such worthy and good prayers. I must hold them loosely. Jesus alone is the source of all things good and I’ll hold tightly too him as I loosen my grip on the good things he gives. 

Worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. I think another word for what I’m talking about is “idolatry.” Good things, good prayers, can become golden calves and the next thing we know we’re worshipping something that will break under the pressures of this life.

Thank you Jesus for your gentle correction and loving embrace as we face the reality of what is stealing our affection for You. Help me trust you with my prayers and make You alone my vision. You are indeed faithful and trustworthy.