Day 9

Be Thou My Vision

from the Hymns of Hope reading plan

Psalm 119:105-112, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Philippians 3:7-11

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:105-112, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Philippians 3:7-11

“God doesn’t give guidance, he does guidance, and you’re in the middle of it.”

Pastor and writer Tim Keller’s words shocked me. I rewound the sermon podcast and listened again. I was in a job I hated—smack dab in the middle of a two-year commitment that felt like it would never end. The world told me that since I was unhappy, I should walk away. And I liked the sound of that. Daily, I pulled into the parking lot and cried, staring at the red-brick building. Inside, 200 seventh graders and several fellow teachers were ready to wear me down, yet again. I wanted to quit. In fact, I was seeking out biblical support to walk away. Instead, Keller’s words cut through the noise.  

I had been praying for God to give me guidance—I wanted Him to show me the way out of my work situation. But Keller’s words reminded me that God had already done the guiding, and unfortunately, He’d led me to this red-brick building. I wanted to leave, but I knew He was calling me to stay. It took every ounce of faith and courage I could muster to step out of my car each day, and into the job He’d called me to. The world tells me to follow my heart, but God tells me to follow Him. It matters greatly which path I choose.

The words of the hymn “Be Thou My Vision” encourage me in my endeavor to live above the common level of life. Because believe me, when I’ve chosen to follow God instead of myself, He has led me on very uncommon paths. He has led me into places of resistance and uncertainty and darkness. But if I truly want to bring light to the world, I can’t be afraid of the dark. Left to my own direction, my heart is a compass that guides me toward passions and pleasures. But God is the true compass, guiding me along His ultimate path for me, changing my heart and renewing my mind in the process.

As it says in 1 Corinthians, following God must look like complete foolishness to people who do not know Him (v.18). But my heart is a broken instrument, so how can I possibly trust its direction? Only God is trustworthy to lead me.

Consider the stanzas from “Be Thou My Vision.” See how each word is antithetical to the world’s call to seek our own way—fame and fortune, pleasure and comfort. The lyrics of this hymn are a reminder of who our God is and what He provides. He is with me. He protects me. He provides power. He brings wisdom. He endows me with treasure in heaven. He is my destination, both now and for eternity. And He is my greatest hope. Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, [Lord] still be my vision, O Ruler of all.


Be Thou My Vision
Text: Irish hymn, sixth century
Prose Translation: Mary Byrne, 1905
Verse Form:  Eleanor H. Hull, 1912

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that Thou art:
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle shield, sword for the fight;
be Thou my dignity, Though my delight;
Thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my high tower,
raise Thou me heav’nward, O Power of my pow’r.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou, and Thou only, first in my heart,
great God of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.


Claire Gibson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine among many others. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Patrick, their son, Sam, and their dog, Winnie. Her debut novel, Beyond the Point, will be published next year.

Post Comments (76)

76 thoughts on "Be Thou My Vision"

  1. Elizabeth Alyse says:

    This is now one of my favorite readings from all of my studies. Thank you SheReadsTruth for being a vessel for God’s word ! I needed to hear this today

  2. Laurie Cartrette says:

    Yes, sometimes what we desire goes in opposition of what God is doing, but I would agree with Ryan Paulson that saying the heart is bad and stopping the is bad theology on the heart. Which is where it’s left it for a long time.

    “I remember getting absolutely destroyed by this thunderstorm, and people in cars next to me were absolutely laughing. It was coming down so hard I had to pull over and I had this thought almost immediately, “Not everything my heart wants is good! Not everything my heart wants is worth wanting!” because I wanted this….and maybe I shouldn’t have.

    We’re in a series where we’re talking about discovering God’s will, and today I want to ask the complex question: Can you trust your heart? Before you answer that, can I tell you any simplistic answer to this question should be rejected. I think that Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute, from “The Office,” do a really good job at drawing out this tension — Michael: My heart says no. Dwight: Your heart is a wonderful thing, Michael, but it makes some terrible decisions……….Save your heart for love, and use your brain for business.

    I was looking back through church history. One of my favorite theologians is Martin Luther, primarily because of his work on the book of Galatians, just breathtaking. He’s the father of the Protestant Reformation. I mean he nails his “95 Theses” to the Wittenberg door and launches the movement that most of us in this room are a part of today! And yet…..and yet, especially later on in his writings, he is a raving racist, hates the Jewish people. Was Martin Luther good or bad?

    King David writes some breathtaking psalms. He’s a poet, man. O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Ps. 63:1Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)) Good or bad? Good. Psalms 40:8Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) — I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. Good or bad? Good. David delighted also in Bathsheba; with a name like Bathsheba you know she was hot! David sees her bathing on the top of a building and says she looks good, calls for her, brings her over, sleeps with her, gets her pregnant. He knows she has a husband so that’s not good. He’s away at war, so David brings him back. He won’t sleep with her. Sends him back to war so that he’s killed. Good or bad? Bad! David — Good or bad? Uh-huh.

    You? Me? Good or bad?

    In a now infamous interview, the then sort of pedestrian Walter Isaacson—he’s come to be one of the best biographer’s of our day—was interviewing Woody Allen. Woody Allen said: “The heart wants what the heart wants.” How many of you have heard that? Yeah, that’s a famous line in our culture, but most people don’t realize what he was talking about. Isaacson was pressing him a little bit about the romantic love relationship that he (Allen) had with his partner’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi. What he said was, “The heart wants what the heart wants” and sometimes the heart wants to be romantically involved with your adopted daughter. That’s the genesis of that quote.

    So many of us who follow the way of Jesus have been around church, we hear this and go yeah, exactly, that’s what the Prophet Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 17:9Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) — The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? For most of us, that’s the end of our theology of our heart. It’s deceitful! It’s wicked! It’s bad! It’s wrong! We should reject our heart. There’s no way that our internal….that sort of internal voice, the spirit, the conglomeration of everything that’s inside of us, our heart….there’s no way that we should listen to that. What happens when your heart wants to be generous? What happens when your heart wants to do what’s right? What happens when your heart wants to follow Jesus? We just sang a bunch of songs about our hearts being drawn to God….what about then? Most of us, I think, have an overly simplified view of the heart—it’s either good or bad.

    Whenever people point out this verse, I just want to remind them that the heart is deceitful above all things is not the end of Jeremiah’s diagnostic about our hearts. He continues to write about the heart. He goes on to prophesy about the New Covenant — For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)) If you read the same promise in the book of Ezekiel 36:26-27Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), what Ezekiel says is God is going to give you a new heart. If you are a follower of Christ, if the Spirit dwells in you, just lean in for a moment, you have a new heart. You do! You may have moved some old furniture into it, but you have a new heart. You’ve been renewed, you’ve been restored. So let me ask the question again–Should we trust our heart when it comes to decision making? Is the heart trustworthy? Well, it depends.”

  3. Kelly Patterson says:

    This study was so profound for me today. My husband and I have been praying for “clear direction” for quite some time now… since our unborn child was diagnosed with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia two years ago. They told us she would die and recommended we terminate but we persisted, moved temporarily across the country to have her, and now she’s a spunky 17 month old! But lately we have been praying for God to open the doors for us to move. Despite all of my family being here and a really good school for our oldest, we simply aren’t happy where we live and wanted to raise our children elsewhere. My husband accepted a job which will move us to Austin, TX and we move in one month. Now I find myself questioning every decision we’ve made and all the things we’ve prayed for and I have been praying for clear direction and guidance once again…. And even in this moment of my life where I’m looking for God to break down every plan we have to move, He keeps propelling us forward because this too is a part of His plan for us. Whether permanent or temporary, as I’ve started this devotion series, God has made it increasingly clear that in my weakness He is stronger and that His grace is sufficient for me – no matter where I am… but that this time in our life where I’ll be away from my family, God will be glorified every step because my weakness will force a reliance I simply don’t have when I’m at home surrounded by all the things that make me confident in myself. So grateful for this series and the revelations it has provided.

  4. Alexandra Finocchio says:

    Hymns of Hope is my first reading series that I’ve committed and stuck to. Though, I’ve had days in between where I haven’t read, but I’m determined to finish. Lately, I’ve been asking God not to lose hope in me, because I’ve continually said I would seek him on a daily basis and have not. Instead, I attended mass weekly and then went about my week without constantly seeking His word. Just writing that truth makes me cry. This reading really meant a lot to me. I feel that it captures everything I’ve been feeling with my journey to seek God each and every day, and be strong to follow His way and not my own selfish desires. A friend introduced me to SRT about a year ago, and though I’m disappointed I haven’t participated in this amazing community before now, I am filled with joy to finally be seeking Him on a daily basis and thereby interacting with the inspirational women of SRT. Thank you.

    1. Praying for you says:

      Don’t forget to give yourself grace along the way, sweet friend.

      You are not the only person who is “behind” on this series (or who has ever fallen behind on this readings). God meets us where we are. You are here and so is he. Believe that and walk in that.

    2. Kayla LMc says:

      Our God loves you with an everlasting love! His mercies are new every morning and He is always faithful!

    3. Ashley Bell says:

      Amen Jesus loves you and desires to grow with you. His door is always open and his grace is always full.

  5. Elise Davis says:

    I’ve attended a church that sang old hymns, it’s always been contemporary praise. I’ve never had a true appreciation for them until I started this devotional. How much I have been missing!

  6. Amanda says:

    For those of you, like this writer, who are stuck in a job they don’t like: There is a light at the end of the tunnel! God has a plan, and he won’t leave you in a job that makes you miserable. He has a purpose for you in that job, while you are there. It may be 1 year or it may be 10. And either he’ll change your heart so you won’t hate it, or he’ll change your job, but he doesn’t let his children suffer needlessly.

    I was in a teaching job that got harder every year because I knew that it wasn’t my long-term calling. I was burnt out, frustrated, overrun, etc. etc. I wanted out after year 2, but God had me wait another year. Finally an opportunity opened up that allowed me to leave and take another job. It was a risk (less benefits, less security, new town), but boy am I glad God gave me the courage to take a leap of faith! I am so much happier and fulfilled at this job, and it is certainly a new mission field as well.

    Find joy in the waiting. Let God use you. Trust his timing.

    1. Anna Simpson says:

      Praise God!
      I too have been in situations like this, situations where I’ve been frustrated with God because I can’t see why he has me in these awful environments still. But through the experiences, he teaches things like patience, contentment, trusting in Him that He knows best, and learning to listen to His voice. Like you say Amanda, He won’t leave you miserable forever, you just have to trust in His plan. And also accept that you might never know the fruit of that plan. He might have you there just to plant the seed with one person.. and then you move on to somewhere else. I’ve had to learn the hard way that sometimes a difficult situation doesn’t ever seem to bear any fruit to me – but I don’t know what else God has planned for my life and He might be shaping me for something to come in 20 years time! So just to echo what Amanda has said – to any of you ladies in a similar situation now – God’s got this. He sees what we don’t and all we have to do is trust in and listen to Him.

  7. Angelina Hansen says:

    This hit hard today… I’ve been struggling with a job I don’t like. I am so exhausted when I come home I feel I’m not able to be present with my husband and daughter. It’s so difficult because I’m in a contract for 3 years and it’s only been 6 months. I feel that pull to just give up and quit. I sometimes question why God would lead me here, but I asked for his guidance and he led me. I have to remember that his plan is perfect. My heart and desires however are not.

    Help me Father to see the good in your vision of my life. And when I can’t see it Lord, help me to be strong in my faith and remember that you are protecting me, guiding me, and loving me. Amen

    1. Anna Simpson says:

      I will be praying for you Angelina. I was in this position earlier this year where I felt trapped in a job that exhausted all of me. There was nothing left for my husband. And because I’ve experienced an extremely similar thing in the past I was determined that God wanted me there for a reason and that I just had to pray my way through it. Deal with it. Long story short, I fell pregnant and God told me to quit. Not to wait for maternity or anything, but to trust in His provision.
      You may think you’re in a contract for a certain length of time, and that may be God’s plan for you. But He also may surprise you or challenge you in a new way and provide a way out. Just trust that this job is one piece of the jigsaw puzzle, God sees the whole thing!!

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