“I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore” Hymn
Mark had been disappointed with himself lately; keeping track, as he often did, of the failures, uncompleted tasks, unfulfilled promises, and feelings of inadequacy that build daily. Struggling to keep his head above the waters of lethargy and self-pity, he noticed a barely discernible voice in the background of his mind. Little by little, as he set aside the mountain of disappointment he saw before him, the voice seemed louder and more distinct. It was a hymn he used to sing in the Baptist church. Focusing on the voice, the hymn’s melody grew louder and very familiar. And now the words followed. He hummed a few bars to himself and then they were there…
I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!
All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling
In His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing,
Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs,
Faithful, loving service too, to Him belongs.*
Yes, of course, Love Lifted Me by Rowe and Smith. This wonderful hymn, written in 1912 was based on Matthew 14, where Jesus calls Peter to walk on water with Him; at first Peter steps out of the boat, miraculously walking on top of the waves, joyfully heading toward Jesus. But then doubt and fear demand an explanation. Peter sinks, calling out to Jesus, “Save me, Lord!”
That’s me, Mark realized. At first stepping out of the boat of fear, uncertainty, doubt, failure, looking steadfastly at Jesus, walking on water. And then what happens? Do I grow weary with the effort; Believe the lies of satan; Desire to feed my flesh; Or do I become something far worse and even less palatable to God. . .lukewarm!
That’s it, he realized, I’ve become lukewarm toward my Savior, the loving God who saved me from eternal damnation and gave me the hope of a jubilant eternity with Him. I’ve treated the One who has infused me with His Holy Spirit as though He were a buddy. “Hey, thanks God for my salvation. Really great. And before this day is over, I promise to make time for you. Well, gotta go, Lord, I slept in this morning and I don’t want to be late for work.”
That’s when Mark understood that concentrating on his failures instead of asking God for forgiveness and a fresh start, sent him into the pit of pity and despair. But, as he reflected on this wonderful hymn, he realized that God’s grace breathes hope into his soul. In the words of the hymnal, But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry…Love lifted me!
And then, like a Wall Street banner, Bible verses scrolled past Marks mind.
1. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
2. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
3. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:10, 11
4. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13, 14
5. Don’t worry about anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6, 7
And then the fog and guilt and self-pity was gone. Mark’s mind was clear. God had restored his hope and balance. He was filled with new resolve, thankful for God’s eternal, everlasting love as one final Scripture gave him the day’s sailing orders:
6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8
Now with a fresh cup of steamy coffee and new resolve to acknowledge Him in all his ways, Mark knew God’s healing and transformation were already at work.