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God is in Our Stories

Blackwater River, West Virginia. Image: Jenna Richardson

We recently spent several days in Marietta, Ohio, and Parkersburg West Virginia for our 50th anniversary. The autumn leaves and countryside were spectacular as we programmed the “Scenic Route” into the GPS. No major highways, just winding majestic country roads as we journeyed to these historic cities on the Ohio River. After touring numerous antique shops and a Roman Catholic Basilica, we arrived at the river to board the paddle wheel ferry to Blennerhassett Island which Harmon and his wife Margaret Blennerhaassett called Eden. 

They built the grandest mansion west of the Allegheny Mountains in 1800 on 500 acres in the middle of Ohio. They imported artisans from Europe and spared no expense to build a beautiful retreat from the growing cities at the time.  

You would have thought that this would be a satisfactory life for anyone. However, having money can attract those who want to use it for dishonest endeavors. Harmon got caught up in political intrigue and he and his wife had to flee their beautiful Eden to avoid arrest. They ended up in Natchez, Mississippi before eventually being taken into custody. As a result, they lost everything and all their furnishings were sold to cover the debts. Today the West Virginia State Parks are following paper trails to recover what they can.  

So you ask what does this mini history lesson have to do with anything? I believe this was a living lesson from Psalm 73 which says this in part:

  My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.

​     For I envied the proud

   ​   when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.

​  They seem to live such painless lives;

   ​   their bodies are so healthy and strong.

​    They don’t have troubles like other people;                                                                    ​  ​   

Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?

   ​   Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?

​  I get nothing but trouble all day long;

   ​   every morning brings me pain.

Perhaps you have had feelings like our friend from the Psalms. You feel as if you have lost your moorings and you are adrift in a sea of sorrow and shame because you believe there is nothing to show for the life you have experienced so far. Living and doing the right things and treating others with respect seems to heap on more trouble and pain daily. If we try to share these feelings people do not want to listen. We are considered whiners and complainers and the truth is that the very people we crave for help are often going through the same issues and so we are left alone in our sufferings. Trying to understand life is difficult and apparently impossible at times.

Our friend in the Psalms is at this point. But our friend tells us that he/she went into the sanctuary of God and the understanding was revealed. The wicked were on a slippery slope and bound for eventual destruction completely swept away by terrors.  

Finally, the answer came and understanding was revealed. But with this revelation came another setback. The Psalmist says it this way:

​​ Then I realized that my heart was bitter,

    ​​and I was all torn up inside.

​​ I was so foolish and ignorant—

  ​ ​ I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.

 ​​Yet I still belong to you;

   ​​ you hold my right hand.

​​ You guide me with your counsel,

  ​​ leading me to a glorious destiny.

Revelation reveals more in-depth qualities of who we are and who we often do not want to be. The bitterness was shrouded by the obsession to have what he/she desired and felt deserved to obtain. The Lord of the universe created us in such a way that we can contribute to the overall function of Creation. When that contribution is missing, all of Creation suffers and is hindered in its full function.  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are (Romans 8:19 NLT). 

This is why even in our weakest and most unloving times God still holds our hand and still gives us counsel because the glorious destiny is Creation restored in all aspects. We cannot always understand but we can live and accept that we are an integral part of God’s plan by faith. So remember when you feel like you are not important or your contributions do not count, you are part of the completion of Creation.

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