I’m thrilled to be visiting Musical Wednesdays today to offer thoughts on my life hymn, Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.
As background, the text of this hymn was written by Anglican Minister George Croly, born in 1780 and who successfully ministered to churches in the slums of London for fifty-odd years. He wrote many similar compositions and published a collection in 1854 entitled Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship but almost every copy of that book burned in a London fire.
The hymn survived, thankfully, and calls for us to love God fully, something only achieved by asking Him to change our hearts, not our circumstances.
I’ve been a Christian since adolescence and I lovingly jumped into a “Jesus & me” relationship with both feet. Through the death of a four year old sibling, my parent’s divorce, dementia of a prayer warrior grandmother and ordinary life hardships – my saving relationship with Jesus did bring me strength and comfort.
My faith, though, was a baby faith. I never committed to studying God’s word and rarely prayed asking His spirit to descend upon my heart.
I had plenty of basic “head” knowledge and I was saved and redeemed and it was enough. I thought.
My first breast cancer diagnosis, at Stage III, in 2012 meant chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
When my cancer quickly returned and spread to Stage IV after supposed “successful” treatment my faith did not waiver but I discovered it was a “head” faith, not a full-on “heart” faith. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a form of super aggressive cancer found in 18-20% of patients and typically turns metastatic and affects other organs quickly. I started to feel uncertainty and anxiety.
The Bible promises that if we draw nearer to God, He will draw near to us. I took that promise literally and began to listen to Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart on repeat on my iPod. Croly’s words brought home the truth that seeking God through the cross is the pathway to finding God’s presence. In other words, we find God especially close to us when we partake in suffering as Jesus suffered.
The song also encourages us in times of unanswered prayer. Faith is not found in days filled with chocolates and roses. It is found in days of desolation. Despite my incurable diagnosis and the medical necessity of ongoing IV chemotherapy every 21 days indefinitely – my “head” faith slowly, over time, changed into a “head & heart” faith.
I realized one morning I consistently experience joy and contentment within my situation – the type of peace described in Philippians 4:7.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (KJV)
I am in awe at God’s love and faithfulness. I know the unceasing prayers of Christian authors, family and friends helped, but Croly, too, explains this transformation in his last stanza: “Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love, One holy passion filling all my frame; The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.” (Public Domain).
Despite the lack of “feeling” I kept drawing near to God. I prayed consistently for Him to “teach me” to love Him as the angels love. I downloaded & listened to dozens of sermon podcasts and fed my faith meat, not milk. Faith isn’t a feeling, it is sustained belief when circumstances are dark and emotions are dry.
In my recent release, Love Among the Lilacs, a sweet romance, the heroine Mollie learns that amidst tough times “life needs forgiveness to bloom.”
When we concentrate on Godly heart changes such as love, forgiveness and gratefulness – the Spirit of God *will* descend upon us. He’s promised it.
I pray the same peace for you.
Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk. Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter. Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking. Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is truly where your heart is?
Ever since her grandfather co-created Twinkies, Snowballs & Hostess cupcakes for Intercontinental Baking Company, circa 1955, Jenna has yet to taste a cake she hasn’t liked.
Jenna writes books for readers who enjoy sweet & compelling romances, and also for those who look for her “fiction that feeds your faith” titles – happily-ever-after romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian world view. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading…with a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she kicks butt & takes down names… and those that feature satisfying fairy-tale-endings.
Her clean romances won’t put you into a diabetic coma, and her faith-based romances aren’t preachy or unrealistic. Her first triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2012 has led to surgeries, radiation, reoccurrences and incurable metastasis. Still, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books that give Him glory.
Connect with Jenna on social media and her blogs:
Amazon Author Page
Blog – Bookish By Design
Book Review Blog
Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win an ebook or audio copy of Jenna Victoria’s novel, Love Among the Lilies.
I, too, am a breast cancer survivor. 12 years. Praise the Lord! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Wish I could give you a hug. 🙂
Such faith and determination shown by Jenna it’s actually contagious! Thanks so much for sharing this interview!
Thanks for stopping by Bonnie and for the kind comments
A very encouraging and heartwarming post! Thanks so much for sharing, Victoria! I’ve also recently discovered that my faith was more one of the head than of the heart. I’m working my way there though, I’ve been praying and studying more and I already feel closer than before.
Thanks again and God Bless,
Ruby, your reply has encouraged ME! May our Savior draw even more closely towards our side.
Amen! Many Blessings, Beth! Glad God used me to encourage you today!
What a wonderful interview. Thank you for sharing your experience, Victoria! Your post was very inspiring.
Jenna, I called you by your last name, Victoria. Sorry about that! lol Before I was married, I had what was considered a first name for my first and maiden names and I got to where I answered to both equally because I never know which one someone would use lol
Such a great interview!
Lol – no worries Melanie. You can call me anything but late to dinner 😀