Read His Words Before Ours!
We live in a fascinating era where information can be received and shared at an astounding rate and volume. You can make a transfer between bank accounts, order a new bathtub, share a work-proposal, make a deposit in your kid’s lunch account, and face-time your cousin in China, all from the comfort of bed if you want. And that’s just before 8am.
The tools and technology God has allowed mankind to progress in have also enabled us to make some pretty amazing progress in spreading the gospel, making disciples, educating ourselves, and simply staying in touch with our moms.
There’s no arguing that technology is pretty great.
But is it that great?
In this wonderfully wild era of exposure, I am presented with a unique temptation to think that I am pretty great. The tech and tools that allow my voice, image and thoughts to reach further than ever before, can also deceive me into thinking my voice, thoughts and ideas are greater than ever before.
And well, that’s simply not true.
But it’s hard to remember this unless I encounter the voice, the image, and the thoughts of Greatness Himself.
What we need is a regular dose of what Carl Gustaf Boberg responded to in the late 1800s. This Swedish pastor was on a walk when he was caught in a terrific thunderstorm. After it died down, he heard church bells ring and was overcome with God’s majesty on display. He immediately scribbled down a poem that would eventually become the beloved hymn, How Great Thou Art.This song has stood the test of over a century and is still considered a favorite today.
It is a stunning depiction of man’s response to God’s greatness. The first two stanzas come from Boberg witnessing the might and wonder of God’s creation:
O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
The refrain leads no one to wonder who the greatest is.
Boberg responded with what the human heart was hard-wired to do – worship.
When we see God for who He is, we will worship Him!
How similar to David’s declaration in Psalm 19:1-3 when he observed,
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.”
Boberg went on to fully reflect on God’s greatness displayed through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus,
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
In the final stanza he mixes inevitable humility with the hope of being home with our Maker:
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”
This hymn has built memories and familiarity for most modern Christians today.
This past month I collected thoughts, stories and memories from people on their perspective of this song. It was fascinating to see the following four themes emerge from the responses I received.
Most commented that this song often comes to mind when they are out enjoying God’s creation. Many resonated with the idea that they feel closer to God when outdoors. It reminds them of their position, and helps them rest in God’s.
Many had stories and memories of their grandmothers singing this song. It also evoked feelings of safety or being “at home”. Along those lines, some expressed the lyrics themselves reach across denominational backgrounds, and helping bridge familiarity when relocating. God’s greatness is far reaching across generations, cities, countries and church bodies!
It is applicable for any circumstance
Reading others’ memories pointed out that this song has been used for a broad spectrum of life events including funerals, weddings, celebrations, loss, and in giving praise. When we reflect on the greatness of God, He provides comfort and joy in every season of our hearts.
Full scope Gospel lyrics
This hymn quite naturally takes us through the gospel of Jesus Christ! For some, the third stanza comes to mind while taking Communion, for others the fourth stanza encourages them to keep longing for their forever home.
How Great Thou Art gives the Bride of Jesus Christ a beautiful way to collectively express our worship. It is a perfect of seeing ourselves rightly, in light of who God is (Romans 12:3). When we see His greatness, beauty, sacrifice and promises,
it will not make us cower, but it will make us worship!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!