Thursday, July 31, 2008

God's country

We (Mrs. Rhymeswithplague and I) have just returned from a short vacation in one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. God’s country. It could be almost anywhere, but the photo above happens to be the Hickory Nut Gorge section of Lake Lure in the mountains of western North Carolina. If I remember correctly, Sugarloaf Mountain is on the left, and Buffalo Mountain (also called The Lady of the Lake) is on the right. It is sunset and we are looking westward, in the direction of the city of Asheville. In the center, off in the distance, the tallest mountain is Mount Pisgah. The Old Testament has the original Mount Pisgah, which is also called Mount Nebo (see Deuteronomy 34:1). It is in the land of Moab (the modern country of Jordan) and is the place where God gave Moses a glimpse of The Promised Land.

In 1845, a man named William W. Walford wrote the words we know as the familiar hymn, “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and William B. Bradbury set it to music in 1861. The fourth verse of the hymn mentions Mount Pisgah. Here are all four verses of “Sweet Hour of Prayer”:

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight:
This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
To seize the everlasting prize;
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

Think of your favorite place on earth, the place that inspires you like no other, the place that makes you catch your breath. No matter where it is, it is only a shadow of The Promised Land. It could be western North Carolina; or Montana; or Banff in Canada; or Maui in Hawaii; or the Alps in Switzerland; or a starry sky at midnight; or amber fields of waving grain; or an endless white sand beach with clear, turquoise, tropical water; or your private place of prayer; or your family dinner table -- it could be anywhere. It is where, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear, God is giving you a glimpse of The Promised Land. If it is beautiful, if it makes you long for more, if it makes you wish it would never end, it is a special place. It is God's country.


  1. Well, simply a lovely post here! If you took that photo, you'd better put in on SkyWatch tomorrow!

    And, what a wonderful hymn to bring comfort and peace to the heart.


    Now.....Engelbert or Harold Reid, or whoever you really are.....there is another award waiting for you here:

    This "thinking blogger" award fits you to a T, so accept it proudly!!

  2. What a gorgeous photo.

    I was wondering where you were. I've read your stories, and I'm pondering them before I send you comments.

  3. Beautiful photo, RWP, and a thoughtful and thought-provoking post. God certainly has given us an earthly taste of some of the beauty awaiting us, if we'll just see it. I'll be thinking "Sweet Hour of Prayer" as I close my eyes tonight.

  4. What a wonderful way by which to glorify God. Post an awesome photo with an awesome hymn. There are those times when a song gets stuck in one's head and it annoys. This is one of those times that a song will be stuck in my head and it will bring me to smiling. Thank you for that!

  5. Jeannelle, Ruth, and Pat -- thanks for coming back to my blog so frequently. You and your comments are always welcome here.

    And welcome also to a new reader, Saddlegait! I checked out your blog at and found it charming. I'll be back. And since you liked my combining a photo with a hymn in this post, I invite you to check out my archived post of May 24, 2008. It contains two photos, the words of one hymn, and a YouTube video of a great choir singing another. It's my favorite of my own posts and I hope you will be blessed by it.