Be Thou My Vision is listed in our church hymnal as a Celtic song without giving the name of the man who wrote it. That is in part because while tradition says it was Dallan Forgaill, it’s not an established fact. However, that does not take away the beauty of the song or the meaning of the words.
My best thought: This is a struggle. As Jerry Jordan said in A Phone Call from God, “It’s hard to praise the Lord when your thumb is caught in the linen closet.” The good news is that it can be done, at least most of the time. The first step to being able to listen to what God says is the decision that you want to do so. He can provide the rest.
My wisdom: When I was a child, I thought all grown ups were given a certificate at age 18 that they now knew everything. Unfortunately, when I turned 18, I didn’t get one. I need the wisdom God provides. Many times, that is the experience of another person who has gone through whatever I’m going through.
I Thy true son: There are many women who don’t like this line, as it is one gendered. That’s not the intention of God, whether it is of the writer or not. When Jesus was being tested by the Sadducees, He explained that there is no gender in heaven. (Matthew 22:29) As a son had more clout than a daughter at the time, the word son was used.
My shelter: There are times when I would like to crawl under a rock and pull it over me. I seriously doubt I’m alone. When I feel like there is nothing else I can do, that I need shelter from whatever storm is there, I’m glad that I can turn to God, my shelter.
My inheritance: An inheritance can often shape our lives. A large inheritance can mean more social standing and everything I might need. With God, it’s different. It’s not about worldly things. With Him as my inheritance, I won’t need anything else. He’s already taken care of all of it.
My treasure: With all of the things He is to me, how can He not by my greatest Treasure? There is also something Jesus said that makes this more true: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth where moth and rust destroy…for where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-24 If God is my treasure, then my heart is with Him.
Still be my vision: That all sounds great, but I don’t think like that all the time. I worry about what’s for dinner or whether or not the car will start. I get wrapped up in earthly things. When I sing this line, it reminds me that I still need God to be my vision.
Listening to this song can focus our attention as Christians towards the direction we need to go. It can remind us of Who and What God is, and what He’s done for us. That may be why it’s still being sung all these hundreds of years later.