I Need Thee Every Hour
Like a priceless vase, we all break when dropped. Our frailty is a subject that unsettles us because it reveals just how weak and vulnerable we are. That is why we do not like feeling our neediness, much less admitting it.
Whenever we begin to sense our neediness we can feel like our lives are spiraling out of control. We hate this feeling because we are control fanatics. At times we would rather believe a host of lies about ourselves than to face the raw truth of our frailty and fallenness. As fiercely independent people we fight to retain control of our lives, even when we are self-destructing.
In spite of denying our neediness, we know deep down inside things are otherwise. If only we were honest with ourselves we would cry out with heartfelt passion the old great hymn “I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord.” Unfortunately we can sing this hymn without its truth touching our lives to any great degree.
Through the prophet Isaiah, Lord asked Israel four rhetorical questions which He asks us today. Along with those questions are stated some profound facts. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing” (Isa. 40:21-23).
Today, the Lord is asking the church, “Do you not know? . . . Have you not understood?” We are as ignorant of the magnificent character of God today as Israel was of old. Since Israel did not recognize their gross ignorance about God they became willfully ignorant of the compromise and rebellion that defined their lives. An honest evaluation of the American church will reveal that we are repeating in our own ways the same crimes of idolatry and spiritual prostitution that ancient Israel committed.
In the above verses God’s awe-inspiring perfections are starkly contrasted with mankind’s frailty, neediness and sinfulness. The Almighty is still able to dethrone boasting kings and presidents, topple egotistical politicians, attack the prideful self-will of men, and bring down corrupt nations. In our arrogance we exalt ourselves one over another, ignoring the fact that there is one King and Lord that one day we will all answer to and bow before.
UNDERSTANDING OUR FRAILTY
History can only boast over a few righteous leaders that have graced this planet. King David is one that stands out among that number. His greatness as a man and ruler was rooted in his profound understanding of his frailty and desperate need for God. In one of David’s heartrending prayers he pled, “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you” (Ps. 39:4, 6-7).
David found true security by trusting in the All-sufficient God. To trust in the Lord David had to understand how foolish it was to trust in man’s faulty and unreliable wisdom and strength. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Ps. 20:7). Experience taught David that victory does not come through his mighty army or the insight of his advisors, but from the All-wise and All-powerful Lord. The king’s wisdom is seen in his willingness to comprehend his weakness, which in turn caused him to trust in the Lord.
One major reason why we do not overcome sin and the difficulties of life is that we think we can prevail over them if we only have enough information, self-determination and time. Yet whenever we strive to obtain the needed victory through our own strength and abilities the Lord leaves us to be our own self-made saviors. The problem is that we make horrible saviors.
The starting point for overcoming sin and our self-life is to know the wonder of Christ as Lord. From that vantage point we can begin to comprehend our weakness and tremendous neediness. It is actually a great gift to see our neediness since we are not naturally predisposed to recognize it. Such wisdom opens the door for the Savior to stoop down in divine tenderness to show Himself mighty to save. This wisdom also sets us free from our natural inclination towards self-reliance that is a constant source of pain.
RECEIVING A GIFT FROM GOD
One church where I was ministering was suffering under the ravages of lukewarmness. Their lifeless worship and lack of spiritual vitality testified to their deadness. After coming into the pulpit to preach, it would take a little time to begin to sense the moving of the Holy Spirit. After the altar call on the third night of services, I prayed for the worship leader in a special way: “Lord, give my sister a great gift. Show her how desperately needy she actually is.”
Though I did not know it at the time, this woman grew very angry with me over that prayer. Infuriated, she went home complaining, “Who does that preacher think he is to pray such a prayer over me? I’ve been at the altar every service.” The Spirit robbed her of sleep that night as He began revealing to her the depths of her sin and neediness.
When service began on the fourth night, the worship leader opened with a humble confession. “I’ve been at this altar weeping over issues that God has shown me through the preaching. Last night brother Meldrum prayed that God would give me a gift to see my neediness. I was furious with him. But after going home the Spirit began a deep convicting work and showed me how desperately needy I am. O how good Jesus is to me.” The church experienced a marked change as the Holy Spirit was tangibly present in the worship for the first time during those meetings.
When King David was in the agonizing throws of seeing his profound neediness he proclaimed, “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you” (Ps. 39:7). Dependence upon Christ begins by seeing our tremendously needy condition which then causes us to throw ourselves upon the compassion and tender mercies of God. This is the place where true liberty is found and victories are won, where we can know how “wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:18).
An independent spirit is always a sign of spiritual immaturity no matter how spiritual a person may boastfully act (this is a great crime and offense against God). True spiritual maturity produces greater dependency upon God—it cannot be otherwise. This dependency happens when believers mature in the knowledge of God’s magnificence and their own frailty and neediness. Great joy is found when we see our neediness and grow dependent upon an All-sufficient, All-powerful and All-loving God.
Through dependence upon the Savior we grow in sweet fellowship with Him, obtain the victory and become useful in building His kingdom. We were created to be dependent upon God, to need Him every hour; anything else is rebellion.
Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.