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Life in Greencastle

The land that my family and I are living upon includes an old barn. This morning with the sun rising and displacing any remnants of cloud and mist, I walked into that barn and went up into the loft and sat in an Adirondack chair looking due south. As I sat in silence the birds and other critters that had been displaced by my coming began to reappear. One by one they came. At last a cardinal appeared: flaming red upon a lofty branch. And he started belting three sharp whistles to the sky. I returned the sound as best I could, and he responded. We went back and forth for a while. Then, he chortled a sound I could not mimic. Knowing I had been outmatched, I smiled and watched him until he flew off to entertain someone else. What a gift!

As I walked away from the barn, I began singing the song we closed our worship with last Sunday: "This is My Father's World".

The president of the seminary I went to loves that hymn (I do too). But, he particularly loves this line: "This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair." He does, doesn't he? God's glory is evident here and there, and this time of the year is when we start seeing His light breaking forth again ... in the birds of spring ... in the daffodils peeking out ... in the glad children ready to be outside.

But while God is shining all the while in our world, we can often miss it, can't we? We can lose sight of God's gracious rule and often do. It happens when we omit one word from that great hymn, "This is My Father's World." We start saying, instead, "this is my world." Oh, the change is so subtle ... and so destructive!

I do that every now and then; I forget to add "Father's". My perspective narrows. My vision of what is important and essential gets confined and constricted. I start seeing the world through the lens of "my" instead of "His". And the world I live in becomes frustrating, crazy, uncertain. People become less than children of God; they become obstacles or means to my own satisfaction.

This constricting and "tunnel-vision" happens to you, too, I'm sure. For the tendency to control our lives has worked itself into us like a cancer.

But sometimes - by the grace of God - our eyes are lifted up, our vision is expanded to see more than "my". Sometimes we are able to see - like I saw in that old barn - all the life God orders and sustains.

Now, friends, consider this: consider that even now, God is watching over all of us. Consider just this land where one of you works at a cement factory, others at our local elementary schools, still others walking the splendid campus of DePauw, the many of you enjoying your hobbies or frustrated by your work. Then begin to multiply us by hours and days and the complexity and wonder increases. And think: we are but a few of many, and we live in just a small slice, just a sliver, of God's world. Let your mind expand and your focus widen, and - then, friend - sing again ...

"This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise. This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair; in the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere."

She who has ears to hear, let her hear.



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