I am weak, but thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord none but Thee.
When my feeble life is over,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely over
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.
The lyrics of the hymn, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” are both legendary and mysterious. It has been covered by some of the greatest artists including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Its mystery comes from its inception which is not completely known. Many believe that it was first sung by African slaves in the deep south. Observe how the lyrics give voice to the soul of the writer; this harmonious ballad was birthed in the midst of a meek and troublesome life… what a testament to humility and a model of living faith. So, settle in and I’ll share with you how this hymn inspires my personal daily walk with the Lord.
The song begins with an immediate recognition, that as humans we are spiritually weak and it is only with Christ’s strength that we will be refrained from doing wrong. The writer acknowledges that Christ is our only hope of satisfaction and asks the Lord to keep close as we walk through the trials and joys of life.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
We then hit the second stanza with the recognition that this life will bring much toil and many entrapments; the songwriter’s faith shines in the brightness of the next line, “If I falter Lord who cares.” There is a confidence we must all have in our walk, knowing that whatever tool the enemy uses to attack us, bends to the will of our Father. The writer then recognizes that Christ understands the weaknesses and hardships we carry. Tim Keller writes, “You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”
Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
We then come to the last stanza and the writer reminds us of our position as dust and mist, knowing it is only through Christ that we will make it safely home.
The chorus ends with a plea to God that our daily walk is abiding close to Him.
James 4:14: “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
James 4:8: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”
James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial; for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life; which God has promised to those who love Him.”
This hymn ultimately reminds me of the gospel; the unimaginable suffering my Savior endured; the high cost that was paid on my behalf. This life with all its trials and troubles can never compare to the humility of Christ. I need this daily reminder to realign my priorities and rightly avert my eyes to the source of my endeavors. An author writes, “If there’s anything in life that we should be passionate about it is the gospel. And I don’t mean only about sharing it with others. I mean passionate about thinking about it, dwelling on it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world. Only one thing can be of first importance to each of us. And only the gospel ought to be.”
Isaiah 53:3-5: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
Acts 20:24: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Finally, this beautiful little hymn fills my path with the hope and joy of a final destination. This world has nothing to be desired; its passions, allurements, and possessions are stumbling blocks to the believer and obstacles for the unbeliever. As a follower of Christ, it is my duty and privilege to pursue Him and when temptations and trials come as they surely will, I find courage in Christ who is my strength and refuge. Remembering Christ never ran from evil, but went through it and triumphed. As I closely walk in the footsteps of my Savior, I anticipate the day our shadows become one.