“Be Thou My Vision” these lyrics to the well-known hymn have been around for centuries. And although I havent song these words for their entire advent, sometimes it certainly feels like it. Having been raised in the institutional church, much of traditional Christendom (at least in an evangelical context) is familiar to me. What astonishes me is that despite this familiarity, I still can often see things in a new light.
This happened to me recently as I was listening to the words of this hymn. I had always thought that Be Thou My Vision was a plead to the Lord to be what the lyricist sought after. Much as organizations have vision statements which articulate what they hope to achieve, I thought the author of these words was asking His Savior to be the epitome of what he hoped to be. This seemed right as Christians are often admonished (and rightly so) to seek to become more like Jesus. Requesting that the Savior be ones aspiration seems a reasonable and notable aim.
Although I don’t know the authors intent, I’ve recently wondered if maybe Ive had it wrong all these years, or at least incomplete. The plead that the author enumerates is not a new one; it can be found throughout the Psalms, and it may be that the true intent of these words has always been what I originally thought – to ask the Father to be the writers sole aim. But I think that the same words take on new meaning when one realizes that vision refers not only to something that one seeks after, but vision refers to the manner in which one is able to have the aim in view. In other words be thou my vision is not simply about becoming like Christ but seeing like Him – not only having Him as our ultimate goal, but viewing the environment and the situations in which He places us with His eyes, to see what He is hoping to achieve. Our goal is not only to become like Him in nature, but to consider the world through the same lens that He does. To view His children as their Father does. To see others hurts as their Healer does. To become like Him in mindset as well as character.
As someone who requires glasses to achieve perfect vision, I know that seeing clearly is not an easy thing. I require even greater assistance when I try to see things as clearly as God does. Be my vision Lord that I may see with Your perfect eyes, instead of mine.