When I began blogging several years ago, I wanted a name for the blog that reflected a bit about me. So, since I spend a lot of time working in Presbyterian circles, where we (try) to do things “decently and in order,” and I live in West Virginia, known for its hills and hollows, the name seemed obvious: Decent Hills and Orderly Hollows.
And, because the format asks for a subtitle, and I like word play, and I intentionally subtitled it: “Loving the (mostly) ups and (sometimes) downs of life in West (By God) Virginia.”
The past couple of weeks have brought both of those into sharp reality.
- History made as PC(USA) elects Co-Moderators for first time
- Belhar added to PC(USA)’s Book of Confessions
- With repentance and resolve, Assembly vows to keep children safe
- Third generation Presbyterian pastor elected Stated Clerk of PC(USA)
And let’s not forget:
- Markets reel as world absorbs shock of UK vote for Brexit
- 20 dead in West Virginia floods; search and rescue continues
And, of course:
And then today we got some serious news about a family member’s health.
It’s times like these that I’m thankful to know that God is in charge — or as we say it in churchy language, to have confidence in the sovereignty of God.
This does not mean, to me, that God is behind any of these things, or caused them to happen for good or ill. No, they are just life — the natural occurrences of the world that God has created.
But it is helpful — and providential — that the daily devotional from Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago from yesterday addresses the ups and downs, the hills and hollows, of life. (I’ll pause here for a plug for these devotionals; if you’re looking for a daily devotional, check it out.)
The devotional is based on Psalm 33:
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous.
Praise befits the upright.
Praise the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
For the word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
he put the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.
The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned he watches
all the inhabitants of the earth–
he who fashions the hearts of them all,
and observes all their deeds.
A king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
and by its great might it cannot save.
Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
to deliver their soul from death,
and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you. (NRSV)
The devotional, written by Katie Patterson, Fourth’s junior high and youth mission coordinator, says in part:
Psalm 33 … reminds us to give thanks, to celebrate, to fear, and that God is in control. It is a check-in: How are you doing? Are you doing what you need to be doing? What is the next step you need to take? Trust that, because God is with you, even when you are scared. Give thanks and sing along.
And so I give thanks, and pray, and worry, and pray, and sing, and pray.
All the while remembering Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”