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Words: James Buchanan Coats (b. Apr. 6, 1901; d. Dec. 15, 1961)
Music: James Buchanan Coats
Note: This song was published in 1940, and is likely the best known of the many Mr. Coats wrote. He was a deacon in his home church for more than thirty years, then served as the pastor until ill health, a couple of years before his death, brought his retirement. Mr. Coats believed that music was a gift from God, and that the true office of music is the worship of God.
Whether in medicine, or in a rescue operation, or some other field of endeavour, we’re used to hearing that something was a “last resort.” Something that appeared to be the one final hope of success. It is, however, a tragic thing when the Lord becomes a last resort, when those in trouble or in need search for answers everywhere else and find none. Then, at last, turn to God.
Years ago, I heard the testimony of retired hockey star Paul Henderson. (He’s the one who scored the famous winning goal for Canada against the Russians in 1972.) Mr. Henderson talked about how he thought all that was needed for a satisfying and meaningful life was a good wife, a family, and a job he enjoyed. But when he got those things he still felt something was missing. He was bitter and unhappy. Then, through a friend, he learned of his need of Christ, and finally found lasting satisfaction in Him.
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” says David (Ps. 34:8). And the Lord Jesus invites seekers to come to Him, promising that He will provide “rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). It sounds as though that was exactly what Paul Henderson was missing, rest of soul.
A misguided search is perhaps more understandable with the unsaved. Maybe they’ve never even heard the gospel, and are seeking satisfaction in the only things they know. But what if it happens to believers? In a sense, that’s even sadder. They know the answer, they’ve experienced the goodness of God, but have drifted away. Unconfessed sin has raised a barrier, and their fellowship with the Lord has been broken.
Long ago, the Lord said to the nation of Israel in a time of backsliding:
“My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).
How sad, when God’s people substitute other things to satisfy their souls, broken cisterns that can never provide what they long for, because that is only found in the Lord.
A variation of the “Where could I go?” question was asked by Peter, long ago. It came in response to a question from the Lord Jesus. Many who had flocked after Him, in the days of His earthly life, were there for the wrong reasons. they were sensation seekers, hoping to see some new wonder, or hoping He would use His powers to deliver them from the tyranny of Rome. They were not ready for the sacrifice of true discipleship and soon drifted away. We read:
“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Jn. 6:66-69).
Living in this sinful world that opposes God and His Word, facing life’s temptations day by day, sensing a deep hunger in our souls, looking ahead to passing through “the valley of the shadow of death,” with needs such as these, where, indeed, could we go but to the Lord?
“Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa. 55:6-7).
“Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. Those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing” (Ps. 34:9-10).
“When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek” (Ps. 27:8).
“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:12-13).
Living below in this old sinful world,
Hardly a comfort can afford;
Striving alone to face temptations sore,
Where could I go but to the Lord?
Where could I go, O where could I go;
Seeking a refuge for my soul?
Needing a friend to help me in the end,
Where could I go but to the Lord?
1) What are some things in which people (and perhaps you yourself) have unsuccessfully tried to find peace and satisfaction?
2) What blessings of God are particularly satisfying to you?