Old Hymn, New Song
I've had an old hymn on my heart lately. It's a beautiful song written by C. Austin Miles, penned in the early 1900's. The lyrics for the chorus of the song go like this,
And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
You may recognize this song titled, In the Garden. The words were written in a damp cellar (not in a garden) after C. Austin Miles had had a vision of Mary visiting the tomb of Jesus after his death. The melody and the verses are just as powerful as the chorus. I'm sure many could tell of what this song means to them and how it has impacted their lives. What jumps out to me, though, are the words, And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. None other has ever known.
At first, the line of the song seems untrue. Many have known depth of relationship with Jesus, haven't they? Isn't this something that we, as Christians, boast in having - a joy-filled relationship with Christ? But these words actually carry a very real and deep truth: No one can share the experience of your relationship with God. We each hold the privilege of knowing God in a unique way; of encountering and experiencing Him in ways that no one else knows.
Your relationship with God is your relationship with God.
What we have with our Father is unique to us; no one else is involved in that intimate experience. That connection is very individual. Oh yes, we worship together, we serve together, we walk with God together, but only God knows the intent of our hearts. Only He knows us completely and loves us perfectly.
And here is the beauty of that holy and treasured relationship - from it springs life and love and light. Just as a husband and wife share intimacy with only each other and a child comes forth, so is our relationship with God. Out of the beautiful union comes life. And that life engages just as the newborn pulls smiles from gazing faces and funny sounds from onlookers. Our relationship with God brings hope to a dying world, new life to a tired, worn down, and rugged world.
There is danger in our walk in the garden becoming stale, familiar. Just as a marriage can wear out and lose its vibrancy, so can our relationship with God. Religious. Mission oriented. Task focused. The elation gets pulled out of relationship and we are left with nothing but our ship; r ship. Us alone, us tired.
But this is not God's desire. He desires to walk with us and talk with us. He wants us to know in the depths of our heart that we are His. Sometimes all we need is a small taste of God to spark the hunger in our hearts. An opportunity for Him to speak; time alone. This is His desire; spark that brings flame that consumes our lives brightly.
Why do we search for the living among the dead? There is no life in this world and the pleasures it offers. Life comes from Him. The next level to achieve just contains a sign saying, "This way to the next level". It is never enough. But relationship with God satisfies the soul deeply.