This particular hymn holds a lot of personal meaning for my life. When I was briefly homeless as a teenager I experienced so much of these verses. “Jesus sought when a stranger” could have never been more true than my being invited to church on an Easter Sunday. I wasn’t just the guy next door, I was the vagrant hitchhiker that needed a warm meal. I had no idea that it was Easter until I entered the church service to which I had gone to get the free food afterward. I chose to sit in the back when I realized that I was definitely not dressed for the occasion. But contrary to my expectations, I discovered that the people at that little church accepted me and seemed strangely delighted that I had come.
Once the Easter service was over I was served a traditional ham dinner out back of the church together with all the other members. The afternoon passed quickly as I enjoyed the time with my new friends. How surprised was I to learn that they also had a late afternoon worship. By that time I was more than happy to stay a bit longer. No one pressured me that entire day to “be born again” or any of the other terms which I wouldn’t have recognized anyway. But I was drawn as if by a gigantic spiritual magnet.My heart was becoming bound with the fetter of God’s love yet I didn’t struggle a bit. Afterward when it was nearly time to go on my way, I was just hanging around with some of the teens and someone (not the pastor!) innocently asked if I would like to take a friend along. “What do you mean?” I suspiciously asked beginning to wonder which of them wanted to follow me. “We’re talking about Jesus?” one of them smiled and replied. In that single moment all my past defenses fell to the ground at the very evident power and presence of the love of Jesus Christ. At that moment God began what has now become a 45 year sealing of my heart to His courts above.
God bless you as you listen again to these familiar lyrics written by a young man by the name of Robert Robinson in 1757. Like Robinson I have also had my struggles over a lifetime journey of faith, yet God has been faithful and His grace always mighty to save!