I heard this hymn to day while playing Indelible Grace’s album The Hymn Sing today. I’d heard it a few times, but this was the first time I actually heard the lyrics:
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.
’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.
These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”
What’s amazing is how horrifyingly accurate these lyrics are. There is nothing I desire more than to grow in spiritual maturity, and especially to see that maturity in an increase in holiness and a marked decrease in expressions of my sinful nature. But praying for that growth inevitably leads to the worst aggravations of my sinful heart. Victory over sin for me so rarely resembles me walking high above the water, impervious to temptation, and more often looks like me wisely avoiding situations where I know I will never be strong.
Oh! that I had been converted at three and found sufficient trials for my spiritual growth in the first two years! Then, not only would I be living in a state of continuously victorious Christian maturity, but I would have almost no memory of my sinful ways at all. But God’s design is that most of my strength should consist of knowledge of my frailty, and gratitude for His grace.