Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Only for My King: the hymnwriter

Frances Ridley Havergal wrote “Take My Life and Let it Be” in 1874. Her life shows us her determination to put the Lord on the throne of her life. Frances was born on December 14, 1836 in Astley, England. She was a bright child, reading when she was four and writing poetry at age seven. Frances trusted the Lord when she was fourteen years old. She'd been longing to be a Christian since she was six, but it took her several years to be ready to make the commitment. “From then onward,” her friend and biographer Esther Enock wrote, “her real happiness lay in pleasing and serving Him.”

Frances used her gift of poetry to write hymns, sometimes composing music to go with her lyrics. You might recognize her hymns “Like a River Glorious” and “I Gave My Life for Thee.” She also wrote devotionals for children. She prayed as she wrote, constantly asking the Lord what she should write on the next line. Her career suffered several setbacks, including her American publisher's bankruptcy ( n exclusive contract kept her from choosing a different publisher), and the only manuscript for an entire hymnal of her work burning in a fire at her British publisher's building.

Frances wrote “Take My Life and Let It Be” while she was staying with friends for several days. She prayed that each of the ten other guests would be converted or find a new joy in the Lord before the party ended. Her prayers were answered, and on the last night of the visit, she wrote the words to the hymn. She took no credit for this success, but used the experience as an opportunity of new commitment to serving the Lord.

Though Frances never married, she certainly did not lead a solitary life. She constantly witnessed to others, whether talking to laundry maids or lecturing on Psalms at a fashionable school. She was especially concerned about those who follow rituals and rules without finding the joy of a relationship with Jesus. Frances used her music to create opportunities to witness, inviting friends over to play duets, or singing a hymn when asked to share her talent at a party. Frances willingly interrupted her writing when there was a chance to witness, seeing that as her first priority. Frances valued people. When she taught Sunday School classes, she remembered each student's birthday, and prayed for all her students for the rest of her life. Frances' readers wrote to her asking for advice on spiritual matters, and she answered them, sometimes writing over a hundred letters a month.

Frances lived a life of surrender and service, aware that she was consecrated—dedicated to the Lord and serving Him in her unique way.

For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity]. (Philippians 1:21 Amplified)

...It is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20 Amplified)

Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11)
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

In what area of your life do you need to ask the Lord what to write (or do) next?
Use the Psalms below to ask the Lord to reveal His plan for you.

You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy;
in Your right hand are eternal pleasures. (Psalm 16:11)
He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake.
(Psalm 23:3)
Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You. Reveal to me the way I should go, because I long for You. (Psalm 143:8)
I rejoice in the way [revealed by] Your decrees as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts and think about Your ways. (Psalm 119:14-15)

This is an excerpt from my next book, Only for My King .This 10 Chapter Bible study will be available about September 1st.

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