By Rev. John Campbell
United Presbyterian Church, Oakdale
This month’s question is what Bible story/verse most helps you through the day? How does it encourage you?
Having grown up in a family that encouraged memorizing scripture verses, this question reminds me of many different passages from the Bible that I have leaned on during my life. My father memorized many verses and passed on that desire to my sister and me. One of the principles for learning verses was from the Psalms: ‘Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.’ So that is the place from which I began learning verses.
A key verse in my life is also a major verse for our family. ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’ I am quoting from the King James Bible, as that is the version that I grew up learning. Because my father was career Navy, we moved around a lot, for example, I was in 8 different schools by the time I got to high school. So we comforted ourselves by the reminder that things would work out since God had called us to be His children. During the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s, we looked to this verse while my father was on a ship loaded with Marines headed towards Cuba.
Another passage that has importance in my life is found etched on a small metal statue of a sailing ship that was given to me as a going-away present. ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.’ I learned these words when I was in elementary school and they have been a special comfort and reminder during all of my adult years. At one point I even found that someone had put these words in a song. Often while I am driving I will sing these words to myself. There is a truth here in trusting the Lord and acknowledging my own limited wisdom. This has been especially true when I came to the end of one period of my life and not knowing where I was headed in the future. For example, when I finished my seminary training, I had no idea where my wife and I would be living and working. Yet, God had a plan. So that is how we ended up here in southern Illinois.
The combination of knowing that God has called me and trusting in God has been both a theme of my life and a great comfort during both good and bad times.
One last thought from something I just read: ‘God has revealed himself and his will to us in the Scripture to a degree sufficient for our salvation and discipleship.’ We can trust that our Lord wants us to know his desires for our lives and that they are for good.
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