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How much leading?

I know Quakers have developed a framework for testing leadings, and that there seem to be many distinctions among leadings, but I tripped over the words to a popular Christian song this weekend because it suddenly didn't seem right. I've sung it many times before, and like it, and hope not to make a mountain of a molehill here, but:

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord. If You lead me.
I will hold, Your people in my heart.

You can find the whole song, "Here I am Lord," at many places on the Web. Dan Schutte (who appears to be a Jesuit priest from St.Louis, among "the fathers of contemporary American liturgical music") wrote it in 1981, and I sang it Sunday in a Methodist Church in western New York. We've also sung it at Cornell International Christian Fellowship many times.

The part that struck me was one word in this line:

I will go, Lord. If You lead me.

Shouldn't that If be a When? Or are leadings really that unusual? (I could make up an extra but inappropriate verse: "If you don't lead me / I will wander / I will backslide / I will live a worldly life" - which sounds kind of like we're telling God to lead, instead of ourselves to listen.)

To be fair, I can read the song as being about leadings to serve on foreign missions, and those may well be rarer, but that's not the context I usually think about it in.


Back when I was Catholic and in the music ministry at a Catholic university near where I live, we sang lots of the songs composed by the St. Louis Jesuits. See:

Most of their songs are paraphrases of scripture, and it wasn't until recently that I realized how much those songs influenced my spiritual evolution. (anyway, I like to think it's been an evolution !)

Now I sing some of them (and accompany myself on guitar) with other members of our meeting during the "opening practices" before meeting for worship, once a month.

"Earthen Vessels" is a favorite of mine, based on 2 Cor. 4:

We hold a treasure not made of gold,
In earthen vessels, wealth untold;
One treasure only: the Lord, the Christ,
In earthen vessels.
Light has shown in our darkness,
God has shown in our hearts,
In the light of the glory
of Jesus the Lord...

Also, "Be Not Afraid:"

You shall cross the barren desert
But you shall not die of thirst,
You shall wander far in safety
Though you do not know the way;
You shall speak your words in far-off lands
and all will understand;
You shall see the face of God and live...
Be not afraid
I go before you always,
Come, follow me,
and I will give your rest.

When I sing that song now, I think of Jesus being at our side whenever we face impossible odds, whenever we're facing a up-hill struggle, such as in the peace movement.

The hymns of the St. Louis Jesuits became like mantras that brought me closer to Scripture and eventually led me to continue on my own spiritual journey...

All the best

Just wondering. In German we do not distinguish between 'if' and 'when'. I could imagine that in some areas settled predominantly by Germans the distinction between the two words might be a bit more fuzzy...