Looking to the Good Shepherd Jesus for the example of how to care for others... Keeping a discerning eye on those who claim to be shepherds of God's people... Learning to recognize, heal from, and speak out against abuse -- spiritual, emotional, verbal, and physical -- in churches, organizations, families, and society.
In the past several years I've come to a keener appreciation for the beauty in nature. When I am feeling disillusioned in my faith, I remember God as the wonderful Creator. I am a bit of an artsy maverick and I love taking pictures in the great outdoors with my trusty little iPod camera, so the story of creation speaks to me powerfully. I am indebted to Bishop William Frey's book The Dance of Hope for reaffirming this many years ago in a passage on seeing God through the lenses of both creation and redemption. As he writes, "God begins to unleash in us the same power that brought the universe into being." The same Lord who created all of this amazing, glorious world makes all things new, and continues to work fresh redemption into our lives. And I think of Jesus. When the messiness of the Christian world gets to be a bit much, and remind myself of Who my life is all about: fairest Lord Jesus. People can make ugly mistakes. He does not. He makes pure beauty. He redeems and renews what has become spoiled. I can sing about that. Jesus shines purer. He makes the woeful heart to sing.
P.S. I have often sung this lovely hymn at home with my children, as well as at church. To read the story behind this hymn, as well as hear it sung, click here. To watch it on YouTube with nature scenes in Celtic style, click here.
This post is the third in my Strength in Hymnseries, which combines hymn texts, nature photography, and encouragement for those who wrestle with the implications of faith in God. The other two posts so far are: