Bigger and Better

I thought I would share with you a favourite hymn….one that I really, really, REALLY like. I don’t have any of the history behind this hymn to share with you — Although I wish I did. I love learning about what made each hymn come to be. The trials in the authors life….the struggles, the triumphs, the cares, the victories. It makes you care so much more about the hymn, gives you a connection with the author, in a way. Or maybe it is just my obsession with history. Either way, learning the story behind each hymn endears it to me in a way that just singing the words can’t.

I first discovered this little gem in a book that I recieved for my birthday a few years ago. An old, outdated, out of print book by an author I greatly enjoy, that had been reprinted — Ester Reid, written by Isabella Alden, pseudonym “Pansy”. And this little gem was tucked away in there, waiting to be found. I highly recommend reading Ester Reid — it can be found free online. From the very moment I cracked the cover, I could so relate to Ester. Her struggles, her joys, her longings and dreams.

Ester filled the oven with pies, then went to the side doorway to get a peep at the glowing world. It was the very perfection of the day — autumn meant to die in wondrous beauty that year….she felt little thrills of a new kind of restlessness all about her this morning. She wanted to do something grand, something splendidly good. It was all very well to make good pies; she had done that, given them the highest benefit of her skill in that line — now they were being perfected in the oven, and she waited for something. If ever a girl longed for opportunity to show her colors, to honor her Leader (Christ) it was our Ester. Oh yes, she meant to do the duty that lay next to her, but she perfectly ached to have that next duty something grand, something that would show all about her what a new life she had taken on.

How many of you can relate to that? Wanting to do something big and exciting for Christ, and forget to serve Him by doing the dishes, or folding the laundry, or watching a younger brother? I can so relate to this passage, as I think most of us can. That’s why we as ladies didn’t fight against the feminist movement that swept the nation — because bigger and better and grander ways to serve Christ are present outside of the confining walls of our homes.

Dr. Van Anden was tramping about in his room….a very unusual proceeding with him at that hour of the day; his windows were open, and he was singing, and the fresh lake wind brought tune and words right down to Ester’s ear:

I ask Thee for the daily strength,
To none that ask denied,
A mind to bend with outward life,
While keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space
If Thou be glorified

Of course Dr. Van Anden did not know that Ester Reid stood in the doorway below, and at that precise moment in need of just such help as this; but then what did it matter, so long as the Master did?

Just then another sense belonging to Ester did its duty, and gave notice that the pies in the oven were burning; and she ran to their rescue, humming meanwhile:

Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified

So I looked up that verse. And I found a beautifully written hymn, with a beautiful tune along with it. And I found that we actually have it in the hymnal we have at our church….We have the four most common of the verses in our hymnal, but there are many, to make up a beautiful poem that is so much of a prayer for everyday life. To create a song that you can sing and mean absolutely every word.

Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
The changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
I ask Thee for a present mind
Intent on pleasing Thee.

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love,
Through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles,
And to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself,
To soothe and sympathize.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoe’er estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts
To keep and cultivate;
A work of lowly love to do
For the Lord on Whom I wait.

 I ask Thee for daily strength,
To none that ask denied,
A mind to blend with outward life
While keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified.

And if some things I do not ask
In my cup of blessing be,
I would have my spirit filled the more
With grateful love to Thee,
More careful, not to serve Thee much,
But to please Thee perfectly.

There are briers besetting every path
That call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot,
And an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee
Is happy anywhere.

In a service which Thy will appoints
There are no bonds for me;
For my inmost heart is taught the truth
That makes Thy children free.
And a life of self renouncing love
Is a life of liberty.

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What are your thoughts?