Visit then this soul of mine, pierce the gloom of sin and grief; fill me, Radiancy divine, scatter all my unbelief; more and more Thyself display, shining to the perfect day. (Charles Wesley 1740)
The Lord does visit us, as Wesley says. But we are rarely open to him. We’re too busy relying on ourselves, trusting in what we know, pursuing what we are just sure our life should be.
That’s why, when I go through the lines of this third verse, I usually substitute the word self-effort for “sin.” More often than not, it is my failed efforts and my unfulfilled self-will that bring the gloom. And, in my experience, “grief” has a lot to do with self-dependence. Right behind our mourning for loss lays the fear-filled question, “How will I manage alone?” Or, “How will I manage without my job”—or my house or my friends?
But the Lord’s “Radiancy” can and does “pierce” through these moments of sadness and pride-filled managing. And Christ, always the Counselor and Consoler, does “scatter” the doubts and distrust of our “unbelief” as well.
I remember one day, particularly, when this happened to me. Riding the train to work was often the best time of the day while I was living in Boston. One morning, I started worrying that maybe I was getting depressed again. Doubts were pounding at the door. Maybe my newly-found joy wasn’t permanent. What would I do? What could I do?
But then, as I began going through the comforting images from Wesley’s wonderful hymn, the train rolled by an outcropping of rock and bushes. As I looked up, one lone branch lit up my window. It was covered with beautiful fall leaves, dancing in the morning sunlight. The gloom was gone instantly. I can still see it decades later. In my heart, it is still “shining to the perfect day.” Thank you, Charles Wesley.