A devotional series by Major Rob Birks
ORSBORNAGAIN is meant to introduce the poetry of the first Poet General, Albert Orsborn (1886-1967) to a new audience and to reintroduce his works to dyed-in-the-(tropical)-wool Salvationists.
These are not new songs.
However, the lyrics are jam-packed with new life, which may be missed during corporate worship. Re-examined through scripture and experience, Rob Birks intends through an examination of these scared songs to renew the spiritual fervor of believers, and point seekers to their Savior.
When wondrous words my Lord would say,
That I unto his mind may reach,
He chooses out a lowly way,
And robes his thoughts in childlike speech.
He came right down to me,
He came right down to me,
To condescend to be my friend,
He came right down to me.
The voice divine, those accents dear
I languished for, yet had not heard
Till Jesus came with message clear,
And brought to me the living word.
Nor could I see my maker’s face,
Veiled from my sight his far abode,
Till Christ made known the Father’s grace,
And shared with men their heavy load.
O Vision clear! O Voice divine!
Dear Son of God and Son of man!
Let all thy gifts of grace be mine;
Complete in me thy perfect plan.
157 The Eternal God – God the Son, The Life and Teaching of Jesus
Cell phones are so much a part of our lives these days. If you’re like me (hope not), you feel like something is missing should you happen to leave the house without it. Of course, like any other form of technical gadgetry designed to make our lives easier, cell phones have the potential to do us harm as well. We must subdue them! Still, here we are. There’s no going back to two cans and a string, no matter how cool those are. Depending on the type of phone you have, you have either limited communication ability (phone, texting, ringtone choices and maybe pictures and email), or nearly unlimited ability (phone, texting, pictures, email, internet, document viewing/editing, music storage, coffee making, teleportation, and one ring to rule them all).
These devices are not essential for living (after all, they can’t really make coffee—yet). However, used responsibly (insert Angry Birds, Words With Friends or Fruit Ninja joke here), cell phones can help us in a few important areas of our lives: communicating with OTHERS, keeping ourselves organized and on track, and staying up on what’s going on in the world. These are all important aspects of life, and cell phones can help us to do them well.
I’m not a techie (or a Trekkie, but I do want that transporter phone), but when I get a text, call or a picture from Stacy, one of my kids, or my close friends, it makes me happy. I’m sure you feel the same way when you get a text, or a call, or an email, or see that little red number at the top of your Facebook feed. There’s something right and reassuring about getting word from someone who knows and loves us, isn’t there?
Now, multiply that feeling by a million and we get close to what I think Orsborn is getting at in the song we’re considering here. “When wondrous words my Lord would say.” God wants to text message us in the most biblical sense. “The voice divine, those accents dear.” God is trying to get through, so we can hear his voice. “Nor could I see my maker’s face.” God sent us a living picture, revealing his nature to us in Jesus Christ. Orsborn’s chorus is poetically simplistic, even while he’s simultaneously describing the incarnation of Jesus and the revelations of his Spirit. To get a word from the one true living God, to hear his voice clearly, to see his Son’s face, it doesn’t get any better than that! Can you hear me now?
So, what’s your vision and voice plan? Many people spend a lot of time and money and effort making sure they have the best voice and data plans. How much thought do we give to our vision and voice plan? Do we expect to hear from and see God as we go through our day? Are we looking? Are we listening?
In the Old Testament, when God wanted to get through to a people who had either put him on hold, wouldn’t pick up, or whose lines were busy (often chatting with other gods), he sent prophets to speak for him. One of those prophets was Jeremiah. He had a particularly tough word to give: I remember the good times we had when you were young, but because you refuse to listen to me or even acknowledge me, we’re through (RWP*).
As my friend and Bible scholar Bruce Power said about this prophecy: “Nice little note from the Lord.” If someone posted that on our Facebook page, we would most likely de-friend them. Here’s the thing though—that’s what God’s people had done to him already. They dropped him and chose another carrier, several in fact. At one point, God calls them “foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear” (Jer. 5:21). In essence, they had become the lifeless idols they worshipped.
The good news is that even though the messages God sends through the “weeping prophet” (they were most likely God’s tears, though the recipients should have joined in) were tough, they were not without hope (Jer. 29:11). He “came right down” to them over and over again with return messages: “Return! Return!”
“Complete in me thy perfect plan.” What’s your vision and voice plan? What are you doing to see and hear from God regularly? With our cell phones, we are either in range or we’re roaming. And you know for a fact roaming can be costly! Can you hear me now?
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jer. 33:3).
* Rob’s Weak Paraphrase