His goodness like a fetter…

Villa Olmo view of the lake
Looking out from Casa Olmo, in Lake Como, Italy

At age 22, hymn writer Robert Robinson penned the words of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  Written in old English, I didn’t at first understand every word (like what’s an Ebenezer?). At some point, I had to look up the meaning of fetter, because the song goes “let thy goodness like a fetter.” The noun fetter turns out to be synonymous with shackles, chains, or restraints. Now handcuffs usually don’t mean good news.  They paint a picture of  confinement, imprisonment or lack of freedom.

Ironically, the truth is I have found no greater freedom than that which I have received when God chose to bind my heart to Him through His Son Jesus. 1 John 4:19 says “He first loved us”. Psalm 139 speaks of how God has worked in us from the very beginning. Yes, he pursued us first and He continues to pursue our hearts that are prone to wander. No matter how many years we have been following Christ or where we have gone to serve Him, while we live in this broken world we remain prone to leave the God we love.  When gifts outweigh the Giver or pain becomes prolonged, we search for a different savior.  When God stays silent through our questions, or when He removes something or someone precious from our lives, our gaze drifts away in quiet resentment. I’m so glad He knows what we are made of, and that He rescues us from our selfish and stubborn ways. Thus it is a blessing and a true expression of His goodness when His grace takes the form of much needed shackles to bind our wandering hearts to Him.

Many Christians love Romans 8:38-39 where Paul declares that nothing and no one can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus! And there’s a reason we love it! It reassures us of the permanence and security of our union with Him. There’s absolutely nothing that can break that bond. (Now we can feel good about the shackles).  Let us thank Him for lovingly binding us to Himself. Let us pray with the psalmist, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17:8

“Oh to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be. Let thy goodness, like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart Lord take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”  (from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson)




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Christian wife, mom and mom-in-law. Physician. Professor. Serves in small groups discipleship. Travels for food, art, and history.

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