Scrape off your rust..!
Abide with me-fast falls the eventide, The darkness deepens Lord, with me abide; When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me!
I returned home and wondered who it was who had composed such powerful a hymn. The little book I referred to told me, it was a Henry. F. Lyte, who lived between the years 1793 -1847. He had taken his thoughts from the 23rd Psalm which is also my favourite Psalm: ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’
I love this Psalm and when my father’s grave needed an inscription I immediately had words from the same Psalm engraved on his tomb. My father had had words from this Psalm hanging over the arch of our doorway, and I know it was a source of strength to him. I wondered what strength it had given Henry Lyte for him to create such meaningful verse. I decided to read more.
‘Throughout his lifetime’ said the book, ‘he was known as a man frail in body but strong in faith and spirit. His health was continually threatened by asthma and tuberculosis. Despite his physical frailties he was a tireless worker with an established reputation as a poet, musician and minister.’ But what struck me was the next line: ‘It was he who coined the phrase, ‘it is better to wear out than to rust out.’
What a powerful line. I am sure he could have easily rusted out and nobody’d have blamed him for doing so what with bad chest, TB and asthma attacks, but no, he strived, struggled and wore himself out. For the last twenty three years of his life Lyte pastored a poor parish among fishing people at Lower Brixham, Devonshire. During these years his strength became progressively worse. For his last sermon, it is recorded that Lyte nearly had to crawl to the pulpit and his message came as from a dying man..!
I am sure that even as he crawled to give his message to his waiting people, he knew his Lord was abiding with him and that was what gave him the strength not to rust away. I wonder how many of us are getting rusted. It was just the other day while walking down an unfamiliar path that I saw the remains of an old garage. I love cars and gazed with surprise at an old bug Fiat that lay in the junkyard. It was rusted and broken and lay hopeless and beaten. Next to it was another old Fiat, old but waiting to get on the road and give the other cars a run for their petrol.
I wonder which car you are? The rusty one that gave up, or the other, old and worn out but rearing to go? Is the rust getting to you? I would like to end with the third verse from, ‘Abide With Me’ and as you read it, I pray you’ll see who scraped Lyte’s rust away..!
I need thy presence every passing hour, What but thy grace can foil the temptors power? Who like thyself my guide and stay can be? Thru cloud and sunshine, O Abide with me!