So Far To Go

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Audio excerpt: End of verse 1 into verse 2
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Lyrics & notes

23 Sep 1976

Your Book is like a mirror (oh, dear)
and today I finally took
took a good look
at myself—I looked at myself
the very things I hated most in others
I saw today in me
what I say and what I am
they seem to disagree
with me

You know every time I think
I've got it made in the shade
that's the time You choose to show
what You know to be me
the real me
and I see the foolishness of judging others
when You've forgiven me
Lord, forgive me once again
and teach my eyes to see like You see
and start with me

yes, I know, I've got so far to go
so very far to go
I've got so far to go
but even though at times I feel this way
that's when I hear Him gently say
"Just put your hand in my hand
and I'll lead you on home"

since You've shown me who I am
what can I do? (boo-hoo)
don't just leave me with my head
a-hangin' down to the ground
with a frown
You promised long ago
that I should be the image of You
but, Lord, that seems so far away
oh, can it still be true?
I'm trusting You

yes, I know, I've got so far to go
so very far to go
I've got so far to go
but even though at times I feel this way
that's when I hear Him gently say
"Just put your hand in my hand
and you're already home"

℗ © Love's Music 1979, assigned to Creative Measures (ASCAP)

1979 Notes:

James says, "If anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does." (Jas. 2:23–25)

Sometimes I avoid looking in the mirror early in the morning—I guess I'm afraid of what I might see. And, likewise, I'm sometimes afraid to look into the Word, because I know that even the "thoughts and intentions of my heart" will be exposed for what they really are (Heb. 4:12).

The solution is not to turn away, but to look even more intently, so the One who wields the sword can do His work in us.

2007 Notes:

As I was saying before, we are Episcopalians these days. Both Davey and I were headed that direction—toward a more liturgical approach, and less center-stage-pulpit-preaching—when we met, and we've continued on that journey together. It's really been wonderful getting to know the liturgy, the mystery, the meaning through the age-old prayers and collects and rubrics and all that. Davey is the liturgy expert around here, and it's nice being able to ask him when I have a question. Our whole church is really learning it together, as we progress down our "total ministry" track. It's very exciting.

One of the things that really resonated with me back when we first stepped out on the "road to Canterbury" was the message of a little pamphlet called Episcopalians and the Bible. It said something like this: "As Episcopalians, we don't stand in the Word and read Christ. We stand in Christ and read the Word." In that little transposition rests a difference as big as all the world. The Word is meaningless, lifeless, just a heap of do's and don'ts without Christ. It's our living relationship with Christ that breathes Spirit into it and gives it—and us—meaning.

Last Sunday we had a Morning Prayer service, and I was the reader. I scanned through the readings a couple of times, as usual, to get the meaning and check for difficult names, and everything seemed fine. But every once in a while, there's something, some truth in a passage that just pierces me. Right through. If you come to it as if you haven't read it and heard it preached on your whole life, if you come to it in all your vulnerability, it just floods in like the tide. So I started reading Ephesians 4:11–16. I made it as far as verse 15: "But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love." I paused a long time. I took a couple of deep breaths. I blinked away the tears. I barely got through it.

One person thought it was because I was nervous (he assured me he'd felt that way before, too). One thought it was because my Dad was very ill. He was, and that was probably a big reason I was feeling so vulnerable. But really, mostly, I think it was just because it was true. The Lord had somehow broken through and showed me a vision of what our little congregation could be like if we really allowed ourselves to be "joined and knitted together," building ourselves up in love.

Nothing happens without the truth. Nothing happens without the love. Nothing.