This month PHIL LAWSON-JOHNSTON explains the thinking and theology behind his song "Fountain Of Life".

Phil Lawson-Johnston
Phil Lawson-Johnston

There is a story which I hope I remember correctly, about Spurgeon, who was in his study preparing a sermon one day. Finding inspiration hard, he was somewhat irritated when he was disturbed by his young son, who entered the room and sat down on the floor. When asked what he wanted, the boy indicated that he really only wanted to sit and be with his father. Spurgeon suddenly realised that God had given him the theme of his sermon.

So often, in our rush to get things done, we forget that our heavenly Father would love us to take more time out just to be with Him; to sit at His feet and be content simply to know that we are in His presence. We see this perfectly illustrated at the house of Mary and Martha, when Jesus commends Mary for sitting quietly and listening while Martha rushes about being busy. (Luke 10: 38-41)

It was a desire to express something of this nature which gave me the first impetus to write the song "Fountain Of Life". I wanted to capture something of the joy that we can experience when we come to God to worship Him on our own or together with others; to delight in His presence, knowing that we are welcome, that we have free access to Him (Eph. 2:18; 3:12, Heb. 10:22+) and that He will not turn us away (John 6:37), Sadly, in our time, many have such a distorted view of what a father is like through their own childhood experiences, that they subconsciously attribute the same deficient characteristics to God when they come to meet Him. Thus, they find it hard to accept that He really does love them, values them and has time for them. We need His Spirit to bring healing and a true understanding of the fatherhood of God so that we can wholeheartedly proclaim, with St. John: "How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1) "A Feast Beyond Compare."

The sense of richness and delight that comes from being in our father's presence can be described as a banquet of wholesome food and drink which gives sustenance and strength to the eater (Song of Sol. 2: 3,4). David says in the Psalms: "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps. 34:8) and "They feast in the abundance of Your house; You give them drinks from the river of delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light" (Ps. 36: 8,9). Isaiah likewise gives the promise from God: "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare" (Is. 55: 1,2). Similarly, Jesus often invited those who were thirsty or hungry to come to be satisfied by Him (John 4: 13,14; 6:35; 7:37, 38). God is the Fountain of Life to all who come to Him.

Not only is it a delight to be in His presence, but there is also a freedom that we can enjoy more than anywhere else and a peace that the world cannot understand, which cannot be destroyed.

Whenever individuals or groups of people came face to face with God throughout the Bible, they never went away unchanged. They could not remain neutral towards Him. They were challenged, convicted, forgiven, delivered, healed, empowered, even struck dead. When the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God's presence, was brought into Solomon's newly-built temple and the people celebrated by joining in praise to God "as with one voice", God responded by coming in His awesome glory so powerfully that the priests could not continue in their service (2 Chron. 5: 13,14). When the hundred-and-twenty were "all together in one place", joining "together constantly in prayer" (Acts 2:1+; 1; 14), there was the most powerful outpouring of God's Spirit which changed them from being frightened and confused into a group of people who boldly turned the world upside down.

If Jesus needed constantly to withdraw and be with His Father to renew His strength, to know His Father's will and intentions for the coming day, how much more do we need to spend time alone with Him? Individually and corporately we need to meet with our Father to have our needs met, our thirst satisfied, to be given a fresh understanding of His will and be empowered to carry it out.

Words and music by Phil Lawson-Johnston

Father, we adore You, we are Your children gathered here
To be with You is our delight, a feast beyond compare.
Father, in Your presence there is such freedom to enjoy
We find in You a lasting peace, that nothing can destroy.

You are the Fountain of Life,
You are the Fountain of Life
And as we drink we are more than satisfied by
You O Fountain of Life.

(From the album 'Comforter' 1989, Thankyou Music) CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.