Be Thou Our Vision


Devotional for Tuesday, March 24

Revelation 22:1-5: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

When we were able to worship together, those in attendance got a bulletin each week with our vision and mission statements on the front. It’s been my experience that if we looked at these statements at all, we tended to focus on the mission—what we do now as a church.

Now is a good time to focus on the vision, “A world conformed to Jesus Christ,” our final destination thanks to the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. A time will come when “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear” allegiance to God (Isaiah 45:23; Paul quotes this passage in Romans 14:11). As followers of Christ, we know this is not a forced allegiance—the grace of God will be so magnificently revealed one day that no one will be able to deny who God is or what God has done for all humanity.

The above passage from Revelation 22 reminds us of the goodness of God. Life flows from the throne, and God makes healing readily available. Mired in the muck of disease right now, we should find the picture painted in Revelation more alluring than before. I want us to drink from the river, eat the fruit, and hand out the leaves to those in need.

At the same time, I have to acknowledge that God’s promises can seem distant, with all the substance of a mirage. It’s okay to acknowledge our frustration, as in the opening of Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?

We don’t change direction, though. We walk toward the vision through discipleship and service. Our commitment to one another in the community known as church continues.

As followers of Christ, let’s sustain one another with this truth: God’s grace is with us. We will arrive, we will rejoice.

Lord, we recognize your goodness in your promises, promises fulfilled and promises to be fulfilled. Amen.


Choir Director Roxanne Cabrera and Pianist Briana Wells recently got together to record some of our favorites for online use. Here is their version of “Be Thou My Vision.”

Be Still …


Devotional for Saturday, March 21

Jeremiah 17:7-8: Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.

A familiar morning blesses us in ways that barely can be captured in words. But I’ll try.

I awake this morning in the same neighborhood where I spent most of my childhood, just one house away from the home where my father still lives. The sky is gray and misty, but the air is alive with sound. The same old crow caws just before sunrise. As the sky lightens, the same doves make their rain song, and their little songbird friends join them.

They cannot be the same. I remember birds from 40 years ago. At best, they are the oh-so-great grandchildren of what was there before. And yet, they are the same, as is the train passing in the distance, pulling the hill toward downtown Jonesborough, rumbling and blowing its low horn.

There is great comfort in the familiar. For those of us raised in church, we find a similar comfort in the stories we first learned from flannel board cutout characters clinging to their fuzzy backgrounds: Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Jesus in the Manger, Jesus on the Cross, the Stone Rolled Away.

On any morning, wherever we are, whatever the situation, we have familiar places we can go simply by revisiting those stories. And if those stories are new to you—well, trust me, regardless of your age, they and all the stories surrounding them can become as familiar as any home place. 

In them, we are reminded God’s love is unchanging, even as the world seems to shift under our feet. May we all seek the Lord and find many good mornings to come.

Lord, thank you for the moments of blessed peace you continually offer us.

Image courtesy Ninel S, Pixabay