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Heart of the matter

Rock of ages, cleft for me...

A rakish whiff engulfs the origin of the hymn by Augustus Montague Toplady Rock of Ages. It suggests that the author composed it on the back of a playing card, while sheltering in a cave from a storm which was raging outside. The truth may be less compelling but not the words. These tell of the chasm separating sinful man from holy God, which was only bridged when God became a human being so that he could pay the price for humanity's sin, thereby making reconciliation possible. God did this through offering his perfect life as a sacrifice on the cross at Calvary.

Toplady himself was, like his name, eccentric. A young curate in the Church of England when he composed the hymn in 1776, his father was a Royal Marines officer, killed in action soon after his birth. Having no siblings, this would explain why Augustus grew up as an awkward only child. Yet he enjoyed the comfort of his faith which consoled him in his own untimely death at the age of just 38.

Such a situation challenges us. How can we make the best of whatever life-span is allotted to us? How may we overcome whatever disadvantages may have hampered our development? What or who best expresses the values we hold? Imagine the story above were true and you were in the place of Toplady. What we you write on that playing card?



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