September 14, 2021
Laity, First UMC Morristown
Mountain View District
Psalm 72:21-28 (NIV)21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
During the last 5 years, I could not have survived several of life’s downturns if the great God of heaven had not been my vision, my wisdom, and my hope of eternal life.
“Be Thou My Vision”
In 2017 my mom and I lost my 85-year-old father. I moved in with her the night that he passed to become her primary caregiver and companion. During the next 3 years as we grieved together, my mom battled bouts of depression, vertigo, and a leg surgery after a bad fall. We made visit after visit to wonderful doctors and emergency rooms who lovingly cared for her.
I had retired as a public high school teacher after 30 years and was transitioning into part-time teaching at first one, then another, private school. When the Covid-19 shutdown caused our retreat into our house in March 2020, our world seemed like it was closing in even more. As we struggled for normalcy, trips out to the grocery store, drug store, and to buy take-out restaurant food, along with online worship opportunities with our United Methodist congregation, ministers, and church staff were our lifeline and sense of hope.
Then in October 2020, my beloved 82-year-old mom was diagnosed with a mass in her abdomen, and she passed away from complications from surgery. Covid-19 shutdown and work-at-home accommodations had allowed my younger brother to be with my mom and me for an entire month during this sad time.
During all of this walk in the darkness, God was my vision, my wisdom, and my hope for eternal life. I was able to see the many blessings in the details. I was blessed to have my Mom and Dad in my life for over 50 years. Covid-19 shutdown allowed my Mom and me to have wonderful months, weeks, and days of companionship and discussions to deepen our adult relationship. My brother was able to leave his family in California, work remotely from Tennessee, and spend loving time with our mom in her last weeks and days.
As I head back to my part-time teaching this fall, I rejoice in the words of one of my favorite hymns, “Be Thou My Vision,” an Old Irish hymn, “Bí Thusa 'mo Shúile,” translated into English in 1905 by Mary Elizabeth Byrne (United Methodist Hymnal, #451, 1989). Truly the great God of heaven is my vision, my wisdom, and my hope of eternal life.
1 Be though my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
2 Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee, and thou with me, Lord.
Thou and thou only, first in my heart
great God of heaven, my treasure thou art.
3 Great God of heaven, my victory won
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.