Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

August 19

William Cowper, 1731–1800
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6)
The Christian life begins with a step of faith for salvation. Then it continues step by step toward spiritual maturity as we develop a growing closeness to God. If we sincerely desire a more intimate relationship with our Lord, we will need perseverance and often personal denial or sacrifice. This thoughtful hymn text teaches that there may be idols that will hinder a close walk with God. It is only as these are forsaken that our way will be characterized by serenity, love, and purity while we go on with the Lord in a daily walk of faith.
As we endeavor to walk closely with God, unscheduled events will often come into our lives. Yet these unexpected happenings may result in greater blessing than we had ever anticipated. If we learn to be flexible and calmly trust God to lead us in His way, we will not only be drawn closer to Him but will be more aware of “a light to shine upon the road.”
The life of William Cowper was filled with troubling events. Early in life he began to be plagued with chronic melancholy and depression that afflicted him at various times until his death. At one time he was in such mental torment that he even attempted to drown himself. Eventually he moved to the little village of Olney, England, where he began a close friendship with John Newton, pastor of the Anglican church there. Each day the two men met in the garden of Cowper’s home to write devotional poetry and hymns. In 1779, their combined talents produced the famous Olney Hymns hymnal, one of the most important contributions to evangelical hymnody. Cowper wrote 67 of the texts in this book. This hymn text was originally titled “Walking With God,” based on Genesis 5:24: “And Enoch walked with God: And he was not; for God took him.”
O for a closer walk with God, a calm and heav’nly frame, a light to shine upon the road that leads me to the Lamb!
The dearest idol I have known, whate’er that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee.
So shall my walk be close with God, calm and serene my frame, so purer light shall mark the road that leads me to the Lamb.

    For Today: Genesis 5:24; Psalm 63:7, 8; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 5:13–18; Ephesians 5:8–10

Be so sensitive to God’s presence and leading that you will be ready to adjust your schedule and represent Him whenever the slightest opportunity comes your way. Allow this hymn to help in this faith adventure—

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