Be Thou My Vision

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This ancient, Irish hymn has always enchanted me. I find the lyrics mystical and the melody haunting. This song also makes me wonder—makes me ask questions. What does it mean to “Be Thou my vision”? In spirituality, a vision is something seen in a dream, trance or ecstasy, especially a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation. Should I be looking for a vision of God? Does that mean that I must dream or be in a trance to find out who He is? Would a vision take my ideas of Him beyond what I encounter in the Scripture? Who exactly is God? And, what revelation would He give me if I really find out? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I love the mystery. I love the questions. In his book, Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell says, “A Christian doesn’t avoid the questions; a Christian embraces them. In fact, to truly pursue the living God, we have to see the need for questions.” He goes on to say, “Questions are not scary. What is scary is when people don’t have any. What is tragic is faith that has no room for them.” I read the book, Velvet Elvis, several years ago when I needed to ask some tough questions about my life, and, ultimately, about God, who He is, how I could find Him, and if I was looking in the right direction in the first place. As a result of searching for these answers, my life began to change in many ways. Some things were “put in the basement.” Some things began to be repainted, reworked, re-formed even. I started to re-think those things to “hang up”; things more dynamic—that reflected the changes in my life and in my understanding of God, the church, and my place in it. According to Wikipedia, a velvet elvis is a painting of Elvis Presley on velvet. It typically represents a costumed torso of Elvis holding a microphone, painted on black velvet. This iconic velvet painting is considered an archetypal example of kitsch and reached its height of popularity in the 1970’s. In his book, Bell suggests that most people who...
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