I Need Thee

By: Anna Spindler | January 31, 2020

Years ago, in the early morning hours, I was in the midst of one of the hardest years of my life. Drowning. In addition to two preschoolers, we had 9-month-old twins, both of whom would not sleep through the night (or I would not sleep train them-the answer is debatable). We had moved to the suburbs, 30 minutes away from all of my friends and family. We found ourselves between churches and community, but often just unchurched because our twins couldn’t seem to survive one hour through Sunday service. Oh, and also, my grandmother had just died after 9 months of illness.  I was exhausted in every way. Lonely.

One morning, after waking up hours too early, I penned these words in my journal. “I need you desperately.” Then I crossed them out, “I need you every hour.”

And in that moment, the words of that old hymn flooded my mind, I need thee, oh I need thee, every hour I need thee.

But because I am not proficient in the lyric arena (as all my friends know), I had to look up the rest. And what I found brought me to tears. The writer of this song was a wife and mother about my age, in the 1800s.

This is what she said:

"One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks during a bright June morning, in 1872. Suddenly, I became filled with the sense of nearness to the Master, and I began to wonder how anyone could ever live without Him, either in joy or in pain. Then the words were ushered into my mind and these thoughts took full possession of me--"I need Thee every hour . . ."

I need Thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine,
Can peace afford.

I need Thee every hour,

Stay Thou near by;

Temptations lose their power,
When Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour,
In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
Or life is vain.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

The human condition has always been the same. The Bible is not full of flawless heroes. Nor is church history. Both are filled with everyday people who chose to trust in an almighty God. And even then, they did so haphazardly, sometimes backsliding…just like us. Through them, I’m encouraged that we are gifted a wealth of poetry and story in which ordinary people teach us it is ok to admit need and to ask for it. It’s ok to not have it all together or be perfect-Sarah, Abraham, Moses, David, the Woman at the Well, Annie S. Hawks (the woman who wrote this hymn), and the list goes on.

This is SO un-American.

Even in the church, we often curate experiences and hide behind perfectionism.  But the truth is, I need my Savior every day, every hour, every moment.  Friends, Jesus presence in our lives is the reason we live. In joy and pain, life is vain without him. Temptations lose power, when he is near. No voice is as tender or gracious as his.

I'm so grateful for an everyday woman who penned these words almost 150 years ago. She recognized that life without dependency on Jesus was vain. May we all be more like her.

This is worship. This is surrender.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
   in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
   and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;[b]
   he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
   Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Pslam 28: 7-9

*As an aside old hymns make great devotionals, but that's another blog post.