Hymn text by Anonymous, circa 1840-. View the full text of this hymn.

The thing I like best about this hymn is the joy it gives to this part of John’s Grand Revelation. As I’ve written before, there are parts of the book of Revelation that I find much less than comforting. But here, this angel is loudly proclaiming the Good Word of God, “to calm our doubts, to chase our fears/And make our joys abound.”

While I understand the overall message of this hymn is about the gospel being “preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (D&C 133:37), this line in the second verse that caught my eye: “Fear God, and make the Lord your friend.”

There’s a line in my very favorite book, an autobiography called “A Girl Named Zippy” by Haven Kimmel, that pretty well sums up this up for me: “It appeared that everyone around me was flat-out in love with [Jesus], and who wouldn’t be? He was good with animals, he loved his mother, and he wasn’t afraid of blind people.”

While this line always makes me laugh, it also makes me think. Isn’t it mutually exclusive to fear the Lord and yet make Him my friend? I don’t think so, actually. In this context I think the word “fear” is not about cowering before an irate Old Testament Jehovah; it’s about not wanting to disappoint Him.

In Alma chapter 7 he writes of Christ taking on people’s infirmities “that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people” (Alma 7:12). In opening our hearts to Him we make the Lord our friend. He becomes the One we tell our secrets to, the One we share our triumphs with, the One we entrust with our heartache.

How do you go about making the Lord your friend?

 

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