Friday, May 10

As the Rivers of Water

The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth—he who fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds.
—Psalm 33:13-15

Words written over three centuries ago give me insight into these verses of the 33rd Psalm:
He still moulds the hearts of men [sic], turns them as the rivers of water, which way soever he pleases, to serve his own purposes, darkens or enlightens men's [sic] understandings, stiffens or bows their wills, according as he is pleased to make use of them. He that fashions men's [sic] hearts fashions them alike. It is in hearts as in faces, though there is a great difference, and such a variety as that no two faces are exactly of the same features, nor any two hearts exactly of the same temper, yet there is such a similitude that, in some things, all faces and all hearts agree... —Matthew Henry
Belief in an almighty God seems no longer to be stylish. The United Church of Christ is a church of process theology—a school of thought in which God is less than all-powerful, but incredibly all-present. God is forever at work within creation to influence, but not to control—at least that's my reading of process theology. And though Matthew Henry would definitely have believed in an almighty God, I can find agreement with process theology in the above citation. It's all in the turning of the rivers of waters. I can envision these streams as strands that are woven together, separated, and redirected, each maintaining a unique identity even as they become part of a greater whole. Such are our hearts as they are influenced (literally flowed into) by the Spirit of their Creator. Thus we become one with God and one with each other—the same and yet unique.

In this way, when I think of God looking upon us and observing us, I might remember that God is Judge. But I am also free to remember that God's observance and knowledge of me are much more intimate than that. God is part of what I do, and all my actions are a witness to the faith I profess. Just as God influences me, I might also—through my words and deeds—influence the whole for good or ill. May my stream not muddy the waters of the great river of life, but bring clarity and refreshment.

Thank you, Lord, for your influence over my life. May the influence I exert on those around me reflect your abiding, loving presence; in the Name of Christ, who taught me to pray: Our Father...

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