Do you have a favorite hymn? What does it mean to you?

As a pastor I have been privileged to visit a number of folk who were near the end of their days. Even if they could offer little response to questions, I found that they would almost always respond to music. If I could learn the name of their favorite hymn and begin singing it, they would join in singing if they were able, or at least move their mouth as though they were singing. Musical memories remain as other memories fade.

My favorite hymn has long been “Be Thou My Vision”. It begins with the words, “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that Thou art”. Because of the old sentence structure of the words, I had to pause and think about their meaning. I finally decided that it was saying to me, Lord of my heart, fill my vision. May everything but what you are be as nothing to me.

That is something that I can hang onto and live by. To keep God as my focus and not be distracted by so many other things less important. It is a reminder to keep God as the center of my vision and not lose sight of that one essential thing.

Race car drivers will tell you that your car will go wherever you are looking. A camera was placed in the car of world champion driver Louis Hamilton, focused on his eyes as he drove around the track. The intensity of his focus was clearly evident as he guided his car. There was very little blinking. By this intensity of vision he could place his car within inches of the same spot on each curve of the track on each lap, yielding the best lap time.

If we can focus our vision on God’s way, we can grow ever closer to exactly where God wants us to be throughout our life. The apostle Paul said that he had run the good race, meaning that he had kept his vision on God and followed God’s guidance. That is what my favorite hymn reminds me to do; to strive for that goal.

What is your favorite hymn? What does it say to you?

May grace be upon you. And may you find God’s peace as you travel this life.

– Rev. Tom Martin, First Presbyterian Church, Fort Payne

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