Sunday, January 24, 2010


The hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” begins with the following line: “When peace like a river attendeth my way…” Peace. My first thought is that there is no peace today in my heart. There is restless longing. I’m not satisfied anymore with walking with Christ through this life. Not when I desire so to be with Him. My eyes, my heart, have opened to the reality of eternity in His presence. I want to be there.

Is it simply because I long to be reunited with those I’ve lost? I don’t think so. It’s the idea of true rest. It’s the understanding that true peace and joy exist in His presence. Knowing that, can I be satisfied with less?

And then the words of the hymn roll over me again. “Peace like a river attendeth my way...” Is it here? Can I experience it now? Maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. To one who doesn’t know Christ, we who grieve in Him are bewilderingly peaceful, joyous. They see us and wonder. They cannot understand. They desire such peace and joy.

But here, the step closer, belonging to Christ and living and grieving within His light, right now it doesn’t seem enough. Walking with Him through this broken world seems tainted. The peace I can have here is not what I know exists. I can almost touch that greater peace; I can see it, but I can’t yet experience it. Somehow, though, I live in peace in the midst of turmoil. I live in joy in the midst of suffering. I have respite in the midst of care.

But today the final words of the hymn are so much fuller of meaning than they used to be. “Oh 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.” Now, I see through a glass darkly, but then I shall know as I am known.

I’ve always loved that phrasing. The concept that there is a veil, an obstruction on my vision. Lewis’ The Last Battle has called to my heart for that very idea. In The Great Divorce the grass of heaven is so much harder, more real than anything we’ve ever felt here. My heart recognized, desired that truth before I realized it intellectually. It is only recently I’ve begun to grasp this longing with my mind. To comprehend it.

I’m restless in attending peace. I’m longing in grateful fulfillment. I’m sorrowing in unending joy. We truly are a peculiar people, set apart. We long even as we experience glimpses of that which we long for. We experience joy as we look to celebration. We have peace while we wait for rest.

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