A church in Bath (see the accompanying photo) has carved over its doorway, ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent’, Luke chapter 24 verse 29. These words were spoken by two people, who walked with Jesus on the day of His resurrection. They were disheartened, following His crucifixion and death, just three days earlier. They hadn’t realised it was Him, who accompanied them on their seven and a half mile walk, which ended with them inviting Him into their home. How glad they were to have done so for, when He sat around the meal table with them, they realized who He was. At this point, He disappeared from their sight. They were overjoyed to know that He had risen from the dead! Indeed, they were so excited at the discovery that they immediately returned on their lengthy journey to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples. They had done the best thing that any of us could ever do, by inviting the Lord Jesus into their life!
Without wishing to sound morbid, the reality for many of us is that our life could be described as, ‘toward evening and far spent.’ God, alone, knows the future. Henry Lyte, the vicar of Brixham in Devon, knew his life was nearing its end, when he wrote the well-known hymn, ‘ABIDE WITH ME’. Amazingly, it took him only a few minutes to compose it!
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close, ebbs out life’s little day,
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me!
I need Thy presence every passing hour,
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
(Henry Frances Lyte 1793-1847)