I’ve heard people say that keeping the commandments holds them back, and for a long time I vehemently disagreed with that sentiment, but I’m starting to see their point.
One of my all time favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Whenever I hear it the Spirit seems to speak a little more loudly to my soul, if only for a moment. But, to be honest, I never took the time to really listen to and ponder the lyrics. Last night, I took that opportunity.
The entire thing is poetic and beautiful. Somehow my love for this hymn grew, but one line in particular stopped me in my tracks. It says:
“Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.”
This begged the question… what on earth is a fetter (or maybe that was just me)? And so, with the power of Google at my side, I searched for the answer. What I found was unexpected.
- A chain or shackle placed on the feet.
- Anything that confines or restrains.
In other words, that line could read, “Let thy goodness, like a chain, bind my wandering heart to thee.”
Suddenly, I realized that all those years I spent disagreeing with the naysayers were in vain. Following the commandments absolutely holds me back. When I choose to keep the commandments, I chain my heart to my Savior.
I am pulled back. I am made safe; I remain in the hope of God’s light. I, along with the rest of mankind, have a propensity for wandering. “Prone to leave the God I love”. And so a merciful Heavenly Father gives me these shackles. With my own free will and choice I can choose to keep these lockless shackles on.
They hold me back from pain. They hold me back from regret. And when I need it–and I always need it– they hold me close and comfort me. In my darkest moments, tied to my Savior, I have never felt so free. So weightless. So safe. So loved.
That’s the thing. Some people see the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a cell, restricting freedom and joy. But really it’s a haven away from heaven. It allows us to leave the chaos and busyness of a carnal world and feel, in the deepest way, at home.
That’s why I love the commandments.
The major ones act as the basic framework for my moral code and the parameters around which I build my life. The small commandments, the minutia of my life, add simple but critical texture and detail to the patchwork of my mortal journey, keeping me ever aware of the legacy I’m leaving.
The shackles only feel uncomfortable when I’m pulling away. But when I fail at times, I find that He’s there holding onto that chain and keeping me close, urging me to come back home.
Do commandments hold me back? Absolutely. They help me remember who I really am and keep me close to the one who will help me become who I really want to be.
And so I pray, “Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.”