Pausing to ponder can leave us in awe


Marty Biggs is the minister of Shiloh Christian Church.

Information seems to fly at us from every direction these days. All one has to do is pull up Google, and every question imaginable can be answered within seconds.

One thing, however, is being lost to my son’s generation: that is an understanding of our past — not just our communal past, but the history of our human condition. What is lost is the purity of lives spent together without mass information at our fingertips, and opinions forced upon us through the media, especially social media.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s people knew and understood the place churches had in their lives. They had time, even took time, to contemplate the things of God, and religion.

As I take time to ponder our history, I often wonder whether the people in our past had too much time on their hands, which left room for God and family, or whether they simply made time for God and family. I have to come to the conclusion that they were just as busy as us, if not more so.

This morning as I sit here in my warm and cozy office a song is replaying in my mind. “How Great Thou Art” is the melody.

This wonderful hymn, which has been passed on through the generations, was written in 1866. A Swedish pastor named Carl Boburg was visiting some friends and family on a Sunday afternoon when a thunderstorm suddenly overtook him. The awesome and violent lightning and thunder quickly ended, leaving clear brilliant sunshine and the calm, sweet singing of the birds in the trees. Falling on his knees in awe and adoration of Almighty God, the pastor wrote nine stanzas of praise.

“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy pow’r thruout the universe displayed!

“When thru the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees, when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.

“And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in — That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin!

“When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart! Then I shall bow in humble adoration and there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!”

Refrain: “Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; how great Thou art, how great Thou art! Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; how great Thou art, how great Thou art!”

A thunderstorm, coupled with the heart of a simple pastor with a heart after God, created these wonderful words we still sing in praise to our God, even 158 years later.

So are the answers we need really at our fingertips, or are they written by God in the sky, or both? This pastor doesn’t believe we have the need to slow down, nor do I believe we have the need speed up. I do believe we have the need to simply examine what history and life have to teach us.

As the flowers bloom and our farmers finish up this planting season, let’s remember to thank God for what He has shown us of His majesty and grace. How great thou art, Father!

Marty Biggs is the minister of Shiloh Christian Church. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.