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by Mark

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By Mark

I’ve been listening to some music by Mumford and Sons after a friend mentioned it on Facebook. (Thanks, George, and yes we live in the digital age here in Mongolia.) They have a unique style and some interesting – really interesting lyrics. There is one line in particular that piqued my interest from their song Awake My Soul. What caught my ear is this, “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”

Enter Jonathan Edwards. The word love, especially when considered in light of Valentine’s Day today (and my 40th Birthday) has been much abused in the English language. It is used so ubiquitously and broadly that it has almost lost meaning. For example: “I love it!” “I love roasted garlic salsa with a hint of lime” and “I love God!” All colloquial usage of love; however, they rather diminish our expression of love towards God. Do I really love “it” as much as I love God? Or is salsa something I love more than God and it has become my idol?

In Mongolian language a challenge that is encountered in translating is figuring out what word fits what is trying to be communicated. You can go about this in two ways. If there is not an exact translation you can use a group of words which describe or express the thought (dynamic) or you can make a new word, usually pulled from another language, and then teach the definition of that word. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. When it came to expressing the truth of what a Christian is, Edwards used the term “affections.” A word familiar to us but Edwards took the definition much deeper. To paraphrase my understanding here (or abuse, I am open to correction) Edwards described the “Affections” as the deepest longings of a person. Your affections go beyond mere feelings or short lived euphoria or dread but instead are the deepest convictions that direct who you are. Further it is these affections which can only be satisfied in God himself. It is by the change in these Affections that true evidence of conversion is found. Do I find myself drawn more to the things of God and less to the things of the world? For example, by your feelings you might go for one flavor of ice cream or another, but by your affections you determine by whom and for whom you live your life. That’s why something clicked when I heard the lyrics “Where you invest your love, you invest your life” – what I hear them singing about is the “affections” of a person.

Cinda and I were reflecting that, wow- we’re forty years old and we live in Mongolia. How did that come about? I shake my head and I can only say that it is by the grace of God that we are drawn by our affections to serve Him with all our lives; to never look back and say, “I wonder what if…?” That, in part, is another story for another time.

The second haunting line in the song is “You were made to meet your maker.” Some day we will and we will give an account of what we have done. As I reflect on standing at forty years I am resolved that my affections would grow for Christ in these coming years and that those affections would direct my life, what I do and what informs what I do. That my life will follow where I have invested love, and that my love be fixed on Christ. He is the one who stands for me and the one before whom I will someday stand.

It was the title “Awake my Soul” that caught my attention. It is an interesting one that sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it. In searching I found the beautiful lyrics of John Wesley’s song Arise My Soul Arise. (Check out Indelible Grace’s version.) The beautiful lyrics of that song come from Romans 8:

33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom 8:33-35 ESV)

It is also Romans 8 which inspires my favorite song, Before the Throne of God.

Arise My Soul, Arise by John Wesley

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.