By God’s Side: October 7, 2020

Weekly Inspirational Reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

October 7, 2020

If you but trust in God to guide you
And place your confidence in Him,
You’ll find Him always there beside you
To give you hope and strength within;
For those who trust God’s changeless love
Build on the rock that will not move.
~ Georg Neumark

It was a cold, blustery day in northern Indiana. I was driving from South Bend to LaPorte, in order to attend a subcommittee meeting of a Presbytery committee. Presbytery gets a bad rap sometimes; you mention Presbytery and people roll their eyes, because they think that it is going to be a lot of stuffy minutiae. It can be. But sometimes, even in the most unexpected places, something different happens.

This particular committee was in charge of all of the worship services at the Presbytery meetings. I had not been in South Bend at my first church for long, when, out of the blue, Carol McDonald called from the Presbytery office, and invited me to serve on this subcommittee. And I said yes. While serving on it, I found that I enjoyed the people and the process of planning worship – because the goal was to design worship that was meaningful but not trendy, that pastors and elders could adapt for use in their own churches.

At this particular meeting we were planning a worship service having to do with Pentecost. And one of the members of the subcommittee looked at me and said, “John, there are no good hymns for Pentecost. You like to work with words. Why don’t you write one?” And kind of like the bumblebee that didn’t know it wasn’t supposed to fly, I said, “Sure, I’ll do that.”

Now, I did not know when I got up that morning and got dressed and got behind the wheel and drove the 45 minutes over to LaPorte, that it was going to be a life-changing moment. It never once occurred to me before to write a hymn text. But I enjoyed doing it. And when it was sung, Presbytery people seemed to appreciate it. And when the editorial committee was planning the blue hymn book that we have in our pews, they seemed like it, too. It ended up in there. Wonder of wonders. And down through the years ever since, I have been writing hymn texts when people request, for special events at their church, or to address particular concerns before the church.

God puts us in the place we need to be in order to grow. That is just one example of many that I could cite. I am grateful that God does that. I know that you are, too. Don’t be surprised if you set out to do something fairly ordinary today, and then it ends up being a life-changer. In Christ may it be so.

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church

About Dr. Dalles

Read more about Dr. Dalles.

Watch a brief video introducing a series of conversations with Dr. Dalles.

About By God’s Side

Shadyside Presbyterian Church publishes By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith.

Read more reflections by Dr. Dalles from By God’s Side.