Nineteenth century New York poet and hymnist Annie Hawks wrote the hymn I need Thee every Hour after experiencing a unique spirit-filled moment as a wife and mother in her kitchen one morning:
“One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks during a bright June morning [in 1872]. Suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him, either in joy or pain, these words were ushered into my mind, the thought at once taking full possession of me — ‘I Need Thee Every Hour’.”
Do you ever wonder how our kids might get along without us? Ever think what it would be like for them to stray from our protection or comfort or love, and where they might end up? No responsible parent likes to imagine the thought. There are great benefits found in the wisdom of parents who have the best interest of their child at heart. We probably all understand what it feels like to be lost, led away, or caught by the lies that promote living life off-center. The same way we as parents know what could happen to our children should they break from us, the Father knows our outcome should we choose to exclude His power, grace, love, and assurance from the scope of our lives.
In scripture I am compared to sheep.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him. Isaiah 53:6 [Message]
Sheep have poor depth perception. However, they are able to compensate well with their ability for hearing. They are animals that have an excellent auditory gift— a gift that enables them to be led. If sheep pay more attention to what they hear than what they (poorly) see, they are likely to avoid dangerous outcomes and live peacefully in their rich grazing fields.
Some of the hardest parts of the Christian life for me are the moments when I am aware of my likeness to a sheep. Those times when the circumstances trying to determine my faith are forceful and make me question what I know to be true of my Good Shepherd. It is when uncertainty bloats my thinking that I tend to grab the wheel and want to lead. The more difficult my surroundings, the more hard of hearing I become: I let my “poor” eyesight be my driver, and not the history of God’s faithfulness in my own life, or even the Biblical evidence referenced in scripture over 2000 years.
In moments where my worry looms larger than my belief, I may have to say a thousand prayers of surrender and remind myself over and over what Annie Hawks discovered that June day: Lord, I need thee, O, I need thee, Every hour I need thee. If I choose to align my thoughts with the immeasurable abilities of the Lord, then the burden of my challenges rests fully on His promises and the promise He will work all things for good.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Situations where I find myself needing God every hour, maybe every second, are hard. But during those difficult days I can cry out and know with full assurance that he hears me and that he has created me to hear him. Just like sheep, he has given me the gift of hearing him when I need to most.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
A Thousand Small Surrenders prayer:
If I should think
That a thousand times a day
I don’t need Your grace,
Then I will pray hour by hour
For surrender, in all my ways,
So that your voice remains my guiding stay. Amen.