March 25, 2009



By Bethany Swope, church relations coordinator
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 119:9-16 (NRSV) Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL: One of the many gifts of my childhood was the priority my parents placed on church. If there was a service, we were there, and it was important to be quiet and attentive. I loved the singing most of all, but it wasn’t a chore to sit still through the rest. I giggle at the memory that we even unwrapped our occasional pieces of candy before church to be sure there weren’t sounds of crinkling plastic during the sermon.

Unlike noisy diversions, Bible reading was always acceptable during church. Psalms was a favorite place to page through when I lost interest in the grownups’ sermon. Psalm 119 stood out as the giant that spread over multiple pages.

Now what catches my eye about the psalm is this phrase in verse 10: “With my whole heart I seek you.” This is an active response to placing our lives in God’s hands. We seek the Holy One in order to follow. And our following leads to a life of service.

It’s easy to linger in the comforting image of resting in God’s hands. There are times in life when that’s all that can be asked of us.

But this Lent, I want to dwell on the way the image also calls us to action. Our lives are in God’s hands — I can think of no more dynamic place than to be in the palm of the One who shapes the world. We’re at the center of the activity. May we experience this as both grace and catalyst.


SCRIPTURE: Psalm 119:9-16 (NRSV)

How can young people keep their way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.
I treasure your word in my heart,
so that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth.
I delight in the way of your decrees
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts,
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.



Comments (6)

  1. Thank you Bethany for sharing your childhood memory, beautiful and common story not often shared. Pam

    Pam Harrison March 25, 2009 |
  2. Thank you for your meditation today. My early experiences in church were similar and I almost found myself thinking I had written the thoughts for today. We never needed to make a decision on . ..”.Are we going to church today or tonight? ” It was an important decision already made by my parents before I was born.

    Mary K. Mishler March 25, 2009 |
  3. Thank you your words this morning. A positive childhood attending church AND still positive.

    Elizabeth Yoder March 25, 2009 |
  4. Dear Bethany,
    Thank you for your incite.
    I too loved the singing and as soon as I could, I would go to every service available. I love the Psalms.
    I agree with you; so I would like to add, that;
    I have a great need to rest in the arms of Jesus, so that when God calls me into action I am ready.

    I grew up not allowed to go to church every Sunday.

    It’s very painful to me, when I hear my “fellow” believers having bad feeling towards the church. {Although… often understandably.}
    Often blaming parents and giving them a hard time.
    If some body could explain that to me.I would me grateful.

    I listen to them and try to tell them, how their complaints hurt me. They turn around and say to me; if I had such a difficult time, how is that I am the way I am.

    My response is: “There but by the grace of God”. God was gracious to me. At an early age, He showed me, through scripture and unexpected (places) people, how much He loved me and cares for me.
    I get blank looks when I try to explain that to them.

    God, through Jesus Christ has given me that “JOY ‘of the Lord” which no-one can take away.

    It’s hard to talk about myself when in the end they don’t really understand me, which often turns into unbelief.
    {I have a wonderful husband and 3 great kids who are married/ involved with ‘the loves of their lives’.}

    Fellow believers are on line, also reading your devotional, so I am uncomfortable leaving my name.
    Your truly,

    Marr March 25, 2009 |
  5. Thanks for this devotional. It provides a most encouraging model for families, one that can help their young children participate in worship and grow in Biblical literacy, two very real issues that impact the formation of faith and Christian identity in our current context.

    Elsie Rempel March 25, 2009 |
  6. how provacative! usually the metaphor of being in God’s hands is for safety, rest, refreshment, security. Indeed God’s hands are busy and we can be where the action is and be instruments of those hands. stu

    Stu Buisch March 25, 2009 |