Hymn: “This Is My Father’s World” – *Maltbie D. Babcock (1858-1901)
Common Tune: TERRA PATRIS
First, let me say that I love this hymn… I love singing it in worship and in private. It is so filled with hymn-lines that you’ll hear from this hymn several times if you follow these posts!
At our house, we watch way too much television (Non-watchers: do not send me condescending messages about this obvious addiction, and I’ll try not to send you emails about yours!) and read too many newspapers and magazines – so I am very much aware of the strongness of wrongness in our world.
We watch a lot of detective/mystery shows… especially from the BBC. I know those are made-up stories, but they are based in human nature – the dark side of carnality.
But the news media communicates the realities of evil: the rising head of wrong. I won’t begin making a list of all the human-instigated tragedies; you know them as well as I. You and I share the shock of “breaking news” stories, especially those which are human-upon-human. We shake our heads and ask, “What’s wrong with the world?” I wish I had a nickel for every time Carlita has said while watching the evening news, “That is just wrong!” I have no choice but to agree with her.
We can – and do – become overcome with reports of evil lurking about us, splashed onto our flat-screens and across our sheets of un-bleached newsprint. When bad behavior tends to asphyxiate me, I have to breathe in once again the reality of my faith - to bring back to the top of my mind that this IS my Father’s world, dang it… he is still the Ruler thereof. How easy that is to forget.
He is also that by which goodness is measured… that kind of ruler! I only remember a few lines from my earliest French vocabulary exercises; in one of them, we held up a one-foot flat wooden strip saying, “Voici mon règle.” Fifty years later in life, I need to say that more often: “Here is my ruler.” This is how I’m going to determine right from wrong. Better yet, “God is my ruler.”
We humans have a tendency toward forgetfulness. We can only point out others’ sins when we are able to forget our own. When in the midst of great difficulty, we tend to forget the great promises of God. We basically forget whose we are. We are children of the King… the Ruler of the earth. After all, this IS my Father’s world.
As you move through today, don’t let evil get you down – don’t allow the Evil One to grab your attention away from the Good One – the Lord God himself.
Although the wrong may often seem so strong, let me never forget that God is still the Ruler.
*- Not one of our most familiar hymn writers, Babcock, an American, was a Presbyterian pastor, famous for his oratory and beautifully descriptive use of language and poetic devices in his sermons. This is his only hymn still in common use. It was published by his wife after his death, so he never heard it sung.