The following is a meditation written by Leigh Anne Armstrong (see bio below). She writes regularly on her blog: Stumbling Toward Light. She introduces the piece and her many others in this way: “I have always been enchanted by words, and none more than the words that shaped, and continue daily to reshape, my faith and spirit. Words for me are master, servant, and friend. So often, I find my inspiration and jumping-off spot in the lines of holy text, hymns of faith, and poetry that turn my gaze toward the ways we are bound to the Creator, to the creation, and to each other. As I meditate on the inspired words of others, I’m often led to a deeper understanding of these ties that bind.”
Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious in it’s bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller everyday,
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.
---Frances R. Havergal, 1874
I have never floated on the Mississippi River, but I’ve read Huckleberry Finn. There is a vivid description of the river that stays with me. Huck and Jim are floating on their raft down the river, intending to veer into the Ohio where it joins the Mississippi. Neither had ever seen the Ohio, or that part of the Mississippi; when they realized that the time for paddling hard upstream of the Ohio was nigh, it was obvious that the river was too wide, too deep, too inexorable to fight against.
I thought of this passage when I read the hymn text for today. This river of God’s peace? It’s no shallow, meandering, drought-sickened rivulet. This river, this peace, is a powerful force, growing ever deeper and fuller in its completeness. This peace is not a resigned, mousy resignation to the ‘true’ powers in the world. It is the force that is able to sustain life, overpowering the unrest, the injustice, the terror in the world with its current. This peace is the true force to be reckoned with.
That’s my kind of river.
Leigh Anne Armstrong has spent most of her life in Auburn AL, where she was fortunate to grow up as part of a vibrant university community, and even more fortunate to be nurtured and supported by a progressive Baptist church. In that church, at various times, she has served as deacon, interim minister, children’s and handbell choirs director, Bible study leader, English language teacher, and VBS leader. She has been active in leadership of AL Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and has been a writer for the Smyth & Helwys Reflections devotional series.
Leigh Anne’s vocational experience is in education and ministry, and she currently works with youth involved in the juvenile justice system. She was fortunate during her children’s growing years to be home and active with them, serving as soccer coach, preschool music teacher, community choir leader, and summer choir camp leader.
In addition to devotional writing, Leigh Anne writes poetry, shorter songs for worship, VBS music, children’s and other choral music, hymns, and folk/indie music. She loves to snap pics of unexpected beauty with her iPhone, and to spend time in the kitchen doing anything but cleaning up after. Her circle of love is expansive and warm, and includes three grown children and the people they love.