Posted by: rcottrill | March 14, 2014

Jesus Has Lifted Me

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Words: Avis Marguerite Burgeson Christiansen (b. Oct. 11, 1895; d. Jan. 14, 1985)
Music: Haldor Lillenas (b. Nov. 19, 1885; d. Aug. 18, 1959)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Avis Christiansen born, died)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The tune was composed for an obscure song by Alfred Barrett called “Let It Be You and I.” Arthur McKee, an editor at the Tabernacle Publishing Company, liked the tune, but not the words. He asked Avis Christiansen to write some new ones, and Jesus Has Lifted Me is the result, published in 1916. Composer Haldor Lillenas was not thrilled about the change in lyrics, but later accepted it.

With a dozen repetitions of the word “lifted” (counting the refrains) the theme of the hymn is clear. We have expressions in English that are similar in some ways. Maybe we’ll say, “Listening to that music sure gave me a lift.” Or we may speak metaphorically of giving someone a hand up, meaning some assistance in bettering themselves. Apparently, there is even an organization called LIFT, that says it can help you “unlock your potential, change your life.”

But what human agencies may promise, and often fail to deliver, God not only promises but fulfils.

“The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands” (Ps. 138:8). “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). “Being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Rom. 4:21).

The imagery in Mrs. Christiansen’s song represents the saving work of the Lord, lifting the sinner out of darkness into light, out of bondage into new freedom, out of death into life. That is a work of God and a work of grace, dependent on Calvary and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. But there are physical acts that are somewhat analogous in the Bible.

While He was on earth, the Lord Jesus a number of times reached out His hand and lifted someone up to restore them physically. There was Peter’s mother-in-law, who was sick with a fever (Mk. 1:29-31), and the demon possessed boy (Mk. 9:20-27). Perhaps the most dramatic, however, is the experience of Peter (Matt. 14:22-33).

The disciples were in a boat, one stormy night, when Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. The men were terrified, thinking it was a ghost, but the Lord told them it was He. With that, impulsive Peter wanted to walk out onto the sea and join Him. (A remarkable thing, even though he struggled later!)

“Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matt. 14:28-31).

CH-1) Out of the depths to the glory above,
I have been lifted in wonderful love;
From every fetter my spirit is free–
For Jesus has lifted me!

Jesus has lifted me!
Jesus has lifted me!
Out of the night into glorious light,
Yes, Jesus has lifted me!

“The depths” provide a frequent picture in the Word of God, indicating not only the depths of the sea (Ps. 106:9), but the depths of fear and desperation (Ps. 130:1) and, indeed, death itself (Ps. 86:13). The metaphor pictures a circumstance that is hopeless, apart from the intervention of God. That is certainly true of the sinner’s plight. To be lifted from that to heavenly glory and new freedom (CH-1), and to have the promise of life eternal in the presence of Christ, and with the saints, “the ransomed and blessed (CH-2), is a joyous thing.

CH-2) Out of the world into heavenly rest,
Into the land of the ransomed and blessed;
There in the glory with Him I shall be–
For Jesus has lifted me!

The opening line of CH-3, “Out of myself into Him I adore,” seems to represent a transformation of perspective and purpose. It is no longer the old, self-serving, self-centred Me that rules my life, but the Lord. And life becomes a daily walk in fellowship with my Saviour (cf. Jn. 15:5; Gal. 2:20). It is a “lift” that will finally take us into the presence of Christ, and on to heavenly glory (I Thess. 4:16-17).

CH-3) Out of myself into Him I adore,
There to abide in His love evermore;
Through endless ages His glory to see–
My Jesus has lifted me!

Questions:
1) In what way(s) have your daily devotions given you a spiritual lift this week?

2) By God’s grace, whom can you give a spiritual lift to at this time?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Avis Christiansen born, died)
The Cyber Hymnal


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