Be Thou My Vision (Lord You Are)

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“I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” (Isaiah 41:13)


You could tell something was wrong at first sight. She walked along the sidewalk without the grace found in most her age. With broken movements, she crawled along the pavement as a fly trying to lift off with one wing. Her guiding stick poised before her like mares before Pharaoh’s chariot, she tried her best to maneuver familiar steps. The cane rapped the concrete with the rhythm of a man pecking at a typewriter with two finger, until a lift in the concrete broke the melody. She stumbled in darkness at midday. 


She most likely had made this walk many times, never so meticulously. Her newness to the task communicated that her diagnosis was degenerative — she now saw people as trees, walking. Slurred shapes moved all about her. The sun had almost set.


So she practiced maneuvering through the neighborhood while it was still dusk, gripping her walking stick in hand with her father by her side. Step by step, they inched together. Every time the extended arm overlooked a crack in the path, an unforgettable expression flashed upon his face. Every stagger was a dagger to her father’s heart. 


Yet he did not reach out his hand. 


Tears streaming down his face, he let her reel and wobble. With every trip and lurch he would reach out his hand, but stop it before it reached her. She needed to learn to walk by herself again — though she was not by herself. His eyes, fixed upon her wellbeing; his heart, stammering every time she did; his voice, guided her from above — he was her vision. And as they struggled along, beauty grew in the most unlikely places: Her unfaltering smile radiated her trust in him.


Be My Vision


Like this precious young girl stuttering along the sidewalk that August day, we all need one above us to be our vision. We need him to guide us through the dim of this world with all its cracks and cliffs. We need him to inch alongside us. As shadows pursue us from behind, his presence must be our light. 


Our eyes do not need to see the path ahead, though it be filled with twists and turns. We need but see our God. He is the Way. He is the Truth. He is the Life. And though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil, for he is with us always — even to the end of the age.


Although we have not yet seen Jesus with our physical eyes, the eyes of our hearts have beheld him and loved him. Although we do not now see him, we believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory as we eagerly wait to obtain the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:8–9). And as we hope in him, his Spirit dwells within us, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when we turn to the right orturn to the left (Isaiah 30:21). And our faces ought to radiate with trust.


Take My Hand


Later that day, I saw the girl and her father pass once again outside my window. She continued to piteously stumble about — that is, until her father said something. With a final beam of happiness rarely seen this side of heaven, she thrust the stick towards her father, who replaced the cane with his hand. No more tottering. No more trouble. No more toil. What a beautiful picture it was: “I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you’” (Isaiah 41:13). 


Soon, this world, with all its shadows and ditches, shall fade away. And we, seeing only dimly now, will see in full. And when he bends down and whispers into our ears that it is time to depart from this world, we too shall thrust our walking sticks away and beam as he takes our hand and leads us home. 


But until that glorious day, we sing along the sidewalk, 


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; 
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. 
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, 
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.