An author I would like to have known personally is Elizabeth Prentiss. Years ago, when first reading her Stepping Heavenward, I knew that she understood. She got what it meant to be a young woman in Christ, a new mom, a daughter-in-law, a friend. As she described Katy's sanctification struggles, I gave a hearty "Amen!" Maybe Elizabeth would have been a kindred spirit if we had lived during the same century? I know that I have learned much from her regardless of our separation in time. For instance, during an illness, she penned these words that have greatly challenged me. You may find yourself humming along as you read as Elizabeth's words have been turned into a familiar hymn.
More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee! Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee. This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee; More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest; Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best. This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee; More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain; Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain, When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee; More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise; This be the parting cry my heart shall raise; This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee; More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
During her illness, she was crying out not for relief from the pain, but for more love toward her Savior. She even called grief and pain sweet messengers! Are you kidding me?! Do you call pain your sweet messenger? I know I do not. Why, just a few days ago, while in a pre-coffee morning stupor, I smacked the side of my head into an exterior door in my home. OUCH! After the initial pain subsided, I was gifted with ongoing agony when I realized that the blow caused my neck to be wrenched from the ordeal. Trying to stay ahead of the torment was my main focus and my sweet messenger was Advil.
Besides the pain in our lives, how many of us can relate to seeking some peace and rest? It was only last week that I was lamenting how I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation. "I just need to rest" was my refrain instead of "Now, Thee alone I seek, give what is best."
How do I move from me, me, me to More of Thee?
When Elizabeth Prentiss was crying out in her torment for more love to Jesus, I'm sure it wasn't just for a temporary feel-good kind of love. It must have been a love that replaces all self-centered thoughts, all vain ideas, all of the idols of our hearts. Whenever I think I know what is best...more love to Thee. Whenever I try to stave off pain or grief...more love to Thee. And, whenever I fear death (for myself or my loved ones)...more love to Thee.
What a blessing to learn from older women who can challenge us to love Jesus above all else. May we be this kind of woman to those in our lives.