Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
I won't deny it, this is a very challenging hymn. It is one of my favorites, but it is very, very challenging.
It's an easy thing to say "Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart," but praying this prayer from your heart and truly meaning it is another story. Then, once we actually mean this prayer, it is even harder to live it out. See, the hymn doesn't stop at "Be Thou my vision," it goes on to say "Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art." As I am prone to do when I am writing, or just thinking, about a topic, I pulled out my trusty Webster's 1940 dictionary, which defines 'Vision' as, "The act or sense of seeing, sight, object of sight." God being our "object of sight" should change the way that we view everything! It's kind of like if I were cell phone shopping (with no spending limit...). As I look at the dozens of cell phones my gaze turns toward the iPhone 4. All of a sudden those other phones sort of fade away and all I see is that iPhone. Now all of those other phones seem obsolete, low tech and so not the phone I'll be getting. Before I saw the iPhone I was impressed by the other phones, "Wow! This one has a slide out QWERTY keyboard!" I thought. After the iPhone, though, my thoughts were more along the lines of, "Psh. Slide out keyboard? The iPhone has a touch screen keyboard that switches directions when I turn the phone!" The iPhone is now my vision, the object of my sight, and no other phone matters.
Okay, okay, really bad illustration, and the iPhone isn't that amazing, but I think you probably understand what I'm trying to get at.
When we are not walking with the Lord our vision gets twisted. It's like putting on a pair of prescription eyeglasses that aren't yours, everything looks strange and is distorted. The glasses twist your judgement and your reflexes. With those glasses that don't work right, little dollar tree plastic cups might look like the Queen's crystal, but when you take those glasses (the "worldly" glasses) off and God comes into focus, you realize that the thing that you had been looking at, admiring and coveting even, was junk and that God is all that matters. Psalm 63:3 says, "Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee." God's lovingkindness is better than life, He is all that matters.
This beautiful hymn goes on, again going deeper, to say, "Thou my best thought, by day or by night." Now, I know that most of us know what 'best' means, but I quite like the way that Webster's 1940 puts it, "Of the first quality or standing; most desirable; the highest state of excellence." "Thou my best thought by day or by night" is saying that God is, or should be, our most desirable thought, our thought with the first quality or standing, the thought of ours with the highest state of excellence. This song isn't simply saying that God is all of these things but that we should be thinking of, dwelling on God in remembrance of the fact that He is these things "by day or by night" Pretty much, we should be distracted by God! God should be taking up so much of our time, thought, energy and devotion that we don't have any extra time, any extra thought, any extra energy or any extra devotion to waste on the world. (As an aside, we are to do things, not just think godly thoughts, God comands us to do things, but the motivation behind doing good deeds needs to come from focusing on God.)
I don't think of God in this way. I don't find myself constantly thinking about, meditating on God. I don't find myself thinking that He is the most desirable thing to think about. See what I mean by a challenging hymn? Psalm 63:4-6 says, "Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."
The first verse of this challenging hymn ends with "waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light." John 8:12 says, "Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."" This goes right along with "Be Thou my vision," doesn't it? Vision, "the object of sight" cannot really be attained without light. I can try my hardest to read a book in a pitch black room, but it isn't going to happen, I need light. I think it's amazing that God is both the light to help us see, and then the object of the sight that He gives us. Isn't that fantastic?
I have been realizing more and more lately how God is not the object of my sight, but He needs to be. I spend my days thinking about speech tournaments, school, friends, family, the weather, summer plans, books and so many other things. So often I find myself just sitting and thinking about things. Rarely, though, do I find myself sitting and just thinking about God, and that has got to change.
This hymn has now become a prayer for me, I truly mean it, now I just have to work on living it out.
Lord? Please, be my vision!
Over and out,