I remember the first time I heard the hymn, All hail the power of Jesus’ name. I was in Malpas Road Evangelical Church (MREC), soon to be a member of the church and about to marry into one of the big families in the church. When we got to the chorus the congregation seemed to just know how to split into their parts and the hair on the back of my neck stood to attention. My soon to be husband, Richard, was playing the organ and I was sitting in the front row. I wanted to turn and look at the congregation as they sang but I kept my eyes on the hymn book. I confess I needed some help understanding it all. ‘What’s a royal diadem?’ I asked at Sunday lunch that day. It could have happened yesterday – the memory is so clear.
Joining MREC introduced me to many wonderful hymns and in those early years singing from Christian Hymns, I asked many similar questions. What does ‘thine eye diffused a quickening ray’ mean? What is a ‘potentate of time’? Can someone please explain, ‘In vain the firstborn seraph tries to sound the depths of love divine?’ I have come to understand and love the deep theology of these hymns, but nothing has been harder than learning how to put the line ‘Crown him Lord of all’ into practice. I didn’t need this explained to me, it could not be clearer. I must submit to his Lordship over all of my life, not just the stuff I want him to be Lord over, not just the things or people I love, but all of my life.
I would love to tell you that more than twenty years later, I’ve cracked it. Sadly this is not true. I’m fifty years old having been a Christian more than half my life, and I’m still grasping at the controls of certain areas of my life. All the while, I know that if I surrendered completely, it would benefit me greatly, and more importantly, it would be the obedient thing to do.
Praise God for his amazing grace and patience.
Crown him the Lord of the good stuff
I know people who can start a conversation in a post office queue and by the time they buy their stamps they’ve shared the gospel with someone. I’m not like that at all, but put me in front of a crowd and watch me go. My dad taught us all to sing and from a very young age I was standing in front of large family gatherings singing and performing. Put me on a stage facing hundreds of people and I’m in my element.
I used to give my earthly father the credit for that. I thought it was sinful to love being in front of an audience and I do love it. When I realised it was my heavenly father who gave me every good thing I have, I stopped feeling guilty for loving it and I let him use it, for his purposes. We are told to use the things he has given us and not to hide them away. The talents we’ve been given should be put to work to bring an increase. The amount of increase is not my concern. I’ve been charged with using what I have.
Crown him Lord of the bad stuff
I’m encouraged by the character of Peter in Scripture. There is such a difference in him from when he appears in the gospels and the epistles he writes. I’m sure it’s more than simply the wisdom of years. His attitude to suffering is transformed and I believe this is a key to crowning Jesus Lord of all.
In the Old Testament generally (and I know that there are exceptions), if things were going well for the people of God it reflected God’s approval and blessing. If things were disastrous it meant that there was some sin or disobedience among the people. The New Testament brought a new arrangement, a new covenant. James and Peter both write to help God’s people to adjust their attitude to suffering. When things go wrong, our instinct can be to think that God is not blessing us, he does not approve of us, or worse, he has abandoned us.
I have struggled with my weight and eating for many years. At my heaviest weight of nearly 24 stone, I found walking long distances very difficult. During this time, Richard and I went to Paris for a few days. We were on a tight budget and chose a hotel out of the city. We managed to get off at the wrong metro stop and had a long walk to the hotel. I was not a happy bunny. The next day we went to visit the Arc de Triomphe. When we got off the metro we were underground and the escalator was out of order so we had to walk up a lot of steep steps. It was a hot day and I really struggled. I was furious and cried like a child all the way up the steps, complaining to God (and poor Richard) all the way up. God was always trying to get me to move, a lot more that I wanted too.
Do you ever ask yourself this question? ‘This is awful. Why has God allowed this?’ God replies, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds’ (Jas. 1:2). Or ‘What is going on? I did this great thing for God and now I’m being criticised!’ God says, ‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you’ (1 Pet. 4:12).
Crown him Lord of all
If only some walking against my will was the hardest thing I’ve had to face. Learning I would be childless almost broke me. Losing my wonderful, godly father-in-law the same year was another blow. A failed adoption application and the death of my mother, all within the first five years of our marriage. I could go on, and I am sure that you, dear reader, have your griefs to bear.
The words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4 come to mind:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8-9).
In the pressure, perplexity and persecution of life, there seems to be only one way to live as we ought; only one way to walk in obedience and respond appropriately to all that God has for us, whether good or bad:
To him all majesty ascribe, and crown him Lord of all.
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