Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Before The Throne of God Above

My grandma, the one who had to leave her home last week, told me once that she would start her day by walking a mile and praying for all her grandchildren by name. This morning I made the lunches, drove the van around to all the schools, gave out hugs and kisses, and sent my babies into the world in much the same way I do everyday. Then I took myself and my running shoes to the bike trail and settled in for a handful of slow miles. I like running. It occupies my body so my heart can pray. And it makes me think of my grandma, starting her day lifting up her babies, even without knowing the particular concerns of their little lives. The important thing for her (and for me, I am learning) was the discipline of placing the people we love at the feet of God. Every day.

At a technical level, it is difficult for me to figure out how to pray the names of my loved ones and keep a rhythm suitable for breathing. I have tried a bunch of times, and somehow I can’t settle in, can’t get past the distraction of mixing words (even in my mind) with the need for air. But today, a little breathable phrase presented itself, and I was grateful. It gifted me the words I needed and – maybe more importantly – the image that speaks my heart, reminding me of what the words I am speaking “look” like.

And so I ran and prayed and breathed. It went a little something like this:
The name of Sis before the throne of God.
The name of Mister before the throne of God.
The name of Peanut before the throne of God.

The image of God’s throne room, and the peace and promise available therein, was made into a beautiful hymn a long time back. In 1863, Charitie Bancroft penned these words to Before The Throne of God Above, a now famous-ish hymn:

“Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.”

There is a good chance, I think, that she had in mind this promise from Hebrews 4:15-16: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

I like the way this guys sings it.

Amen. And Amen.

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