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Portrait of an Overcomer

...he shall rule them with a rod of ironů.
Revelation 2.27

Overcomers come in many shapes and sizes. Saints who are faithful to death are all sorts and conditions of both men and women, both young and old. If we conflate the promises in Revelation 2 and 3, they are all promised the crown of life. They keep Christ's word, and do not deny Him in an evil world. They persevere in doing good, and even if they lose something of their first love, they may repent and make a new start. The rewards described build up into a total picture, and it is not for us to apportion them, for we do not know how God's future will all work out. But imagine, if you will, the thought of the promise to rule the nations with a rod of iron being given to a little old gentle-mannered Welsh lady.

One such lady was Anna Laetitia Waring. She was born in 1820, in South Wales, in a Quaker family. Her father and her uncle were both writers. In her teens she began to write hymns, and when she was thirty she published a little book of hymns and meditations. She had joined the Church of England, and continued to write. Although she was shy of publicity, her hymns became widely known and used - even in the United States where they were published in Philadelphia by the 'Association of Friends for the Diffusion of Religious and Useful Knowledge'. She learned Hebrew so as to be able to read the scriptures in the original tongue. She never married. In later life she lived at Bristol, doing work for the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society'. She had a gentle and merry spirit, but also knew suffering. She died in Bristol in 1910.

Her hymns were very personal, 'marked by great simplicity, concentration of thought and elegance of diction'. 'The ideas of a Christian life which are wrought into the poetry are always both strong and tender, vigorous and gentle, brave and trustful.' Reading or singing them, we can sense the mind of an overcomer. Here are two examples.

In heavenly love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here:
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack:
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.

Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o'er me,
Where the dark clouds have been:
My hope I cannot measure,
My path to life is free;
My Saviour has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.

     x x x

Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me;
The changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see:
I ask Thee for a present mind
Intent on pleasing Thee.

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love,
Through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles,
To wipe the weeping eyes;
A heart at leisure from itself,
To soothe and sympathise.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go.

I ask Thee for the daily strength
To none that ask denied;
A mind to blend with outward life,
While keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified.

This hymn has several more verses which reveal her life full of humble service. It was not without disappointments and trials, but she was convinced that 'a life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty'. Is that the secret of overcoming?

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.' (Revelation 3.5)

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