What Can I Do For You?

2 08 2008


For a few months now, on and off, I have been reading The True Bonds of Christian Freedom written in 1645 by the puritan Samuel Bolton.  Last night, as I was coming to the end of the book, Bob Dylan’s song What Can I Do for You? from his 1980 album Saved came to mind.  Dylan takes a few poetic stanzas to say what Bolton expounds upon in his book.  When we encounter the transforming power of God’s grace in our lives duty becomes pleasure, obligation becomes offering, and performance becomes praise. Only those who have not encountered the freedom of grace continue to try to earn God’s favor under the taskmaster of legalism.


“You have given everything to me.

What can I do for You?

You have given me eyes to see.

What can I do for You?”


Dylan begins with the chorus and asks a question whose answer is obvious.  When we encounter love in all its truth and purity there is only one natural and true response to it and that is self sacrificing love to the One whose love we have encountered.


“Pulled me out of bondage and You made me renewed inside,

Filled up a hunger that had always been denied,

Opened up a door no man can shut and You opened it up so wide

And you’ve chosen me to be among the few.

What can I do for You?


You have laid down Your life for me.

What can I do for You?

You have explained every mystery.

What can I do for You?”


The song then moves from the truth of grace that has been encountered and transformational response which it brings to showing the complexities of sin and the depth of our separation from God’s grace.


“Soon as a man is born, you know the sparks begin to fly,

He gets wise in his own eyes and he’s made to believe a lie.

Who would deliver him from the death he’s bound to die?

Well, You’ve don it all and there’s no more anyone can pretend to do.

What can I do for You?


You have given all there is to give.

What can I do for You?

You have given me life to live.

How can I live for you?”


While I love this song, I believe the most moving verse comes at the end.  Dylan makes that point that true grace is so powerful that we can do nothing else but stand against all odds to proclaim it ourselves.


“I know all about poison, I know all about fiery darts,

I don’t care how rough the road is, show me where it starts,

Whatever pleases You, tell it to my heart.

Well, I don’t deserve it but I sure did make it through

What can I do for You?”


We don’t ask what we can do to earn God’s favor if we have encountered grace because we know His favor rest in Christ. When we have encountered His grace and, as sons and daughters of God, look up to experience our Father’s loving grace as it rest upon us, we cry out from the depths of our being and ask a question which can not be contained – “What can I do for You Lord?  I need to know.  I long to know!  What can I do for You?

Go to my “Current Tunes” page to see Bob Dylan perform this song.   






2 responses

3 08 2008

Thanks for this reminder. I know, that in my own efforts many times I believe that I know what I can or should be doing to please God. But in many of those situations I find that my own lack of a true self sacrificing love trips me up. It’s then when I ask God to take my worthless works and used them to his glory and honor. I know He can and many time does dispite my efforts. I take some comfort from the life of the Apostle Paul going 180 degrees in the wrong direction but God still used him. Lord show me what I can do for you. Perhaps God will give me some added insight during our Men’s Conference – Dangerously Freedom.

7 08 2008
Mrs. Claus

So many people look at christianity and ask “what will it do for me?” Rarely do they look at the relationship between God and human beings as just that – a relationship that requires unconditional love and devotion just as any relationship – and that it’s not just what God can do for us but what can we do for God? He has given us everything. We should ask ourselves daily “What can I do for you?” And that doesn’t mean “What can I do for you that won’t require much effort on my part or doesn’t take too much time or conveniently fits into my schedule?”

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