As an older man Robert Robinson one day heard a woman humming a hymn he had penned as a 23 year old Methodist Minister. She asked him how he liked the hymn – to which he is reported to have replied – “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”
In recent years the hymn Robinson wrote in 1758 – the one the woman was humming, has once again been in vogue – “Come, Thou Fount of every blessing”. In the hymn Robinson expresses a sentiment many of us can identify with – “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” In the light of his later admission it appears this was a tendency he, like many of us, gave in to again and again.
Part of the last verse of the hymn, which is rarely sung today, speaking of heaven, says this – “O that day when freed from sinning, I shall see Thy lovely face.”
While taking nothing away from the sentiments expressed in this great hymn – I wonder if it might just be that our wandering starts when, here in time, we loose focus of “His lovely face”. Asaph, another man who knew what it was to wander [see Psalm 73], prays three times in Psalm 80 — “Make your face shine down upon us”. On each occasion however this prayer is preceded by another – “Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God Almighty”.
There are times when we feel incapable of any action that will bring us once again under the Divine Smile. In times like these we need to pray urgently – “Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God Almighty”. The last part of this prayer, again repeated three times is this – ”Only then will we be saved”.
Our salvation – personally, corporately, nationally or in any other realm requires a turning, the biblical word is “repentance” – and repentance is certainly not a one time event! So if we find ourselves in a place of emptiness, darkness or confusion today – may God help us to turn once again – may His face shine upon us – and may we be filled with the joy of His salvation.
Turn us again to yourself, O God.
Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.