Above the Noise and Strife

(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)

Be Thou My Vision is a 365-day devotional book I first published in 1995. It’s a devotional book based on selected lyrics from traditional known and lesser-known hymns. I wrote it on the premise that lyrics written by Christians over 100 years ago might speak into our culture today in refreshing ways. I was right. I also found that two to four lines from a hymn gave me plenty to write about each day. 

One other thing about daily devotional books is the uncanny way they can relate years later to events on the very day. Case in point is yesterday’s reading on the very day Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Keep in mind this was published 27 years ago to be read yesterday. Here is that reading.


Where cross the crowded ways of life, 

Where sound the cries of race and clan, 

Above the noise of selfish strife, 

We hear Thy voice, O Son of man! 

From “Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life” by Frank M. North

Virtually all of the major conflicts that go on in the world — all of the wars — can be traced to the cries of race and clan. These wars are full of hateful crimes, fueled by memories of injustice — atrocities one generation remembers and retaliates for by inflicting upon the next. The cycle goes on and on. 

More “civilized” folks read the newspaper and wonder how people can be so ruthless in Bosnia, Ireland, Rwanda, or the urban centers of the world. Are they not all the cries of race and clan? Were they not the cries of Hitler and Mussolini? 

And what would the Son of Man be saying if we could hear His voice above the noise of strife? He would be saying that we are all one. There are no divisions, no races or clans. There is only one race: human. And there is only one clan: the family of men and women He died for. 

In a Croatian hospital, a Muslim and a Croatian girl lie side by side, healing from the wounds of war. They become fast friends. They represent two warring clans, yet they have heard the voice of Jesus above the noise and the strife. They are proof that there is a better way. Yet they will go home to opposite sides of the river. Will someone listen to the children?

[Our Catch is late today because we have been trying to set up a way you can purchase a download of the book Be Thou My Vision for yourself. With volunteer help, we almost had it, but good thing I checked it out first. The link to purchase it took my money fine, but I never got a book! So we will have that worked out by Monday.

Meanwhile, pray for the people of Ukraine and pray for the Russians to cease their aggression.]

This entry was posted in prayer, relationships, Tragedy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Above the Noise and Strife

  1. John A Fagliano says:

    My favorite prayer for peace was written by Sebastion Temple. I was a child hearing this song in church regularly while the Vietnam war raged on. Now here are children giving it a voice.

    Lord we pray for golden peace,
    Peace all over the land
    Where all people dwell in liberty,
    Walking hand in hand.

    Banish fear and ignorance, hunger thirst and pain
    Banish hate and poverty;
    Let no one live in vain,
    Let no one live in vain,

    Keep us all for ever one, one in love and grace,
    Wipe away all war and strife,
    Give freedom to each race

    Let Your justice reign supreme and
    Righteousness be done
    Let goodness rule the hearts of all,
    Let evil be overcome,

  2. Toni Petrella says:

    I pray for the folks of the Ukraine each day. I cannot imagine life without faith in our Lord Jesus Christ to our God. Those folks need us now more than ever. I remember singing a song when I was in choir back in high school at one of our spring concerts titled “Be thou My Vision. Thanks for the reminder in a special way.

  3. Mark D Seguin says:

    Great Catch, Pastor John and agree w/ this: “Virtually all of the major conflicts that go on in the world — all of the wars — can be traced to the cries of race and clan.” Yet can’t is be said all Wars are because of sin and SURELY not loving our fellow man as yourselves..?

    • You’re correct, Mark.
      While I may be in error theologically, my belief is that man’s struggle for dominance began at the Garden of Eden and that man’s wars began when Cain murdered Abel.
      It doesn’t matter whether millions of soldiers are involved or if it’s a one-on-one conflict for some sort of supremacy – by any other name it’s still war.
      Any number of reasons or excuses – whether geographical, political, religious, racist or, quite frankly anything that “perturbs” any given leader, state, or society at any given time – can be used to allegedly validate or justify ominous threats, drawing lines in the sand, taking up arms, and all-out combat; and the same “perturbations” can be used to carry out acts of retaliation, vengeance, and retribution.
      The cycle never seems to end.

      But, as you pointed out, it still all boils down to sin and hate.
      And, despite an individual soldiers personal feelings or ambivalence toward their (supposed) enemy, those soldiers fulfill what Jesus defines as “murder.” They become murderers by becoming the embodiment of their leaders’ hate and disdain toward their neighbors and fellow human beings (and even countrymen) when they squeeze that trigger, fire off a missile, or drop a bomb.
      Those soldiers may say they’re duty-bound to follow orders but, really, by submitting to commands to overtake, dominate, and establish a new order of supremacy at the cost of others’ lives… well, those soldiers become the hands, feet, and boots-on-the-ground of despots, dictators, and any other authority who cares not one whit for any person other than themselves. Those leaders are okay with killing children and civilizations and are quite content to let the grunts do their dirty work for them.

      Having seen Air Force life myself, I’m conflicted over the role the military should play in todays world. Our military does serve a good purpose when there are humanitarian needs around the globe and they do provide a modicum of inner peace by protecting us from the autocrats I mentioned above.
      But, they are still primarily a force for killing and occasional subjugation.
      Winston Churchill said, “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”

      Please don’t get me wrong, I am very appreciative for all of our military personnel (and their families) and the sacrifices they’ve made throughout the centuries and are still making today.
      Having lived through the Cold War and dropping under my school desk for drills that were meant to simulate a nuclear attack made me both afraid of the enemy and grateful for our military readiness even through to now.
      Yet, there has never really ever been any peace. At least, not the peace that presidents and prime ministers often promise.
      The cycle never seems to end.

      Of course, I’m talking about lower-case peace.
      There is the upper-case Peace “that passes all understanding” which is available to anyone and everyone who truly seeks it (Him).
      To paraphrase John Lennon: “If everyone sought Peace instead of another television set, then there’d be Peace.”

      “Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.”
      ― Mahatma Gandhi

      Shalom, Peace – True, Peace to you and all of us…

  4. Toni Petrella says:

    I thought this time two comments would be sufficient. In the eyes of the Lord we are all one with him. I work at Warrior Inn Nellis AFB Nevada. I am on lighter duty due to my shoulder injury from last May 2, 2021. I wish some folks who are leads in housekeeping would read this Catch and maybe think about it. I have been feeling for months and I know I am not alone that extreme favoritism goes on at all lodging facilities not just ours. The leads are folks from the Philippine Islands and anyone working under them who is not are treated less than favorable. Cold shoulder treatment, only speak to you giving a request and sometimes not in a nice way. If you address them it better be work related. They will laugh with the workers from the same place but, tell the rest of us to be more quiet. Thank God I have a great family and don’t have to suffer emotionally alone. I will be sixty-two August 17 of this year and can plan for retirement. The Catch is very helpful to me in so many ways and hopefully more folks will also fine it helpful. I hope more folks realize with the Lord we are all one. Take care, and God Bless, always.

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