O Perfect Love

Text: Dorothy Gurney (1858-1932)
Tune: O PERFECT LOVE by Joseph Barnby (1838-1896)
from Hymns for the Family of God, copyright 1976

In honor of our 7th anniversary (yesterday), here is a hymn that appears in the marriage or home or family section in a majority of my hymnals – yet I have never heard it at a wedding. Did anyone out there use this in their wedding? It is so good! I’m thankful for Christ’s perfect love that has so graciously blessed us these seven years. I am grateful for such an amazing husband to share life with, and I’m looking forward to what the next years will bring.

Take a minute to listen to the words of this hymn. It’s message is refreshingly honest about the challenges of marriage (or really just life in general) but it points to the ultimate source of hope: Christ’s sustaining love and life and the promise of eternal life with him.

O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
Lowly we kneel in prayer before Thy throne,
That theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
Whom Thou for evermore dost join in one.
O perfect Life, be Thou their full assurance
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope, and quiet, brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.
Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow,
Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
And to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
That dawns upon eternal love and life.

Family Vacation?

Jesse and I have always loved vacation. We have a saying that we use while on our various adventures whenever we’re staying up too late or eating way too much ice cream or spending a little more than we should on something… “we can do this. we’re on vacation.”

And so we approached this year’s vacation with the excitement and sense of adventure that we have in the past. Except for one thing. We had a 2-year-old with us. Our itinerary was intense. We planned to try camping for the first time ever, go to the most remote, least visited national park in the country, visit friends, attend a dedication of my baby nephew, and stay in a hotel with an indoor water park.
Did I mention we had a 2-year-old with us. And not just any 2-year-old. This girl is finicky about her routines, does not sleep well away from home and can scream so loud in the car that your ears ring for days afterward.
But we tried it. And we (mostly) succeeded. We camped in the back of the van instead of trying to sleep in the tent, and we came home early, trading a hotel stay for 2 nights in our own beds so we could all get some sleep before we had to go back to work.
A friend of mine warned me about this a while ago. She said – we don’t call them “vacations” when the kids are with us. We call them “trips.” Yes. I think that pretty much sums it up. This was a trip. Not the relaxing, adventurous vacations Jesse and I have had in the past. We don’t regret our aggressive travel schedule, but we were definitely ready to be home when we returned!
A stop in Duluth on our way up the North Shore
The boat ride to Isle Royale National Park. The girl was a trooper!
We passed a group of men hiking at the park who looked at Raya and said “Good for you for bringing her here!” I guess they must not see many toddlers on the island…
Raya getting a biology lesson from the Park Ranger
Time with the Schmidt family in Hovland, MN

Raya and Sparrow. Amy and I are hoping they become best friends just like their mamas!
Family pic at the beach.

Lord Through Changing Days, Unchanging

Text: Walter Russell Bowie, 
Tune: REGENT SQUARE, Henry Smart (1813-1879)
from The Abingdon Song Book copyright 1938

There is a phenomenon that I have seen happen in prayer meetings over and over again. We can begin with almost any topic and inevitably someone brings up something they saw on the news or read in the paper and suddenly everyone is saying “can you believe how terrible the world is today?” A spirit of fear enters the room and we forget to pray at all. Instead feed off each other and lament about how messed up and scary things are.

And we’re right. Whether it’s terrorists or tornadoes, kidnappings or car accidents, there is so much terrible, evil, devastatingly disgusting things happening all the time – around us, even to us. But I love the phrase that keeps coming back in this hymn. Go beside us, lead and guide us… Hold before, kindle o’er us… Hold us serving, all unswerving… whatsoever things are true.

While we could focus on how completely messed up the world is – which is “true” in many so many ways – we could also fill our minds with Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). . He is the unchanging God – even when everything else is changing around us.

I love the picture in the opening chapter of Revelation. John has just seen this dazzling, glowing, golden, blazing (and terrifying) vision of Jesus that knocks him flat on his face. And then Jesus says to him:

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Rev 1:17b-18.

I think it is because I can be such a worry-er that this hymn resonates with me. It reminds me that God is beside me, he is going before me, he will guide me to the truth. And he is the one who knows even better than we do how terrible the world is, and is victorious over all of it. I want to live out of that truth instead of living in fear. My prayer is that God will transform me from a worry-er to a prayer warrior. One who has complete trust and faith in the risen Christ and his power over sin, death and evil everywhere and at all times. This hymn is encouraging me today. Not to mention it’s putting me in the Christmas spirit (anyone recognize the tune?… think “angels from the realms of glory…”) Hopefully it will encourage you too!

Lord, through changing days, unchanging,
Thou the Light our fathers knew;
Through our widening ways, far ranging,
Let Thy splendor claim us too;
Go beside us, Lead and guide us
To whatever things are true.

Be the path through vale, up mountain,
Through the cloud or through the blue,
By smooth field and silver fountain,
Or parched desert, struggled through;
Hold before us, Kindle o’er us
Whatsoever things are true.

Past all sham of small succeeding,
Sordid gains that call and woo,
Lift us by the mighty leading
Fit for Thine aspiring few;
Hold us serving, All unswerving,
Whatsoever things are true.