Words are my life. If I’m not speaking/teaching with them, I’m either writing them or playing games with them. Consequently, I find myself doing a lot of self-editing to make sure my message is clear.
Editing sometimes involves correcting punctuation. Putting a comma in the right place can make all the difference in the meaning of a statement. For example, which is better: I like cooking my family and my pets; or I like cooking, my family, and my pets. Or: Let’s eat grandma; or Let’s eat, grandma.
Using words or deleting them can change the meaning being conveyed. I would like to suggest an editing correction to an old hymn that has been recently updated, and is currently playing on Christian radio.
In one of the previous churches I attended we often had hymn sings, times when the people would call out the hymnal number or title of their favorite hymn. I would cringe when I heard someone request number 443, “He Never Has Failed Me Yet.”
And now a whole new generation of believers is hearing this disappointing musical theology.
I can almost imagine your confused looks as you read my concern. Am I majoring in minor things and making mountains out of molehills? I don’t think so. This simple three-letter word injects an enormous dose of doubt into our faith in God. Simply put: while affirming God’s got a pretty good track record so far, we’re not sure about the future. Including the “yet: implies there’s still potential for God to not come through—and that’s not possible!
Sure, we can all point to times when we didn’t get what we wanted: a job, health, money, or the miracle to save the day. But that doesn’t mean God failed.
Tucked in Jeremiah is a verse often quoted, worn on t-shirts, or slapped on mugs. The people were in an unbelievably difficult situation—one they’d never chosen…but God did. His message: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).”
God has plans for you, good plans. He will not fail.
Paul, understood this, too. While in prison (talk about a situation that could seem like a God-fail), he wrote: “We know God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28, NLT).” Not everything will seem good, but God can make them work together for good. Like Jeremiah said, for His plans and purpose.
I’m not suggesting we take a marker and start crossing out all the “yets” in the hymnal, but I do believe we need to edit that kind of thinking our of our faith and our living. Drop the yet, and put a period there.
He never has failed me. And He never will.