Shouting Fire in a Crowded Church

Shouting Fire in a Crowded Church

Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

November 1, 2023

Shouting Fire in a Crowded Church

Vince Amlin

For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever.

They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.

Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid… – Psalm 112:6-8a (NRSV)

In September, I had a breakthrough with my spiritual director. I came into our session anxious and overwhelmed, and 45 minutes in, I heard God speak exactly the words I needed to hear.

I cried. I felt assured of God’s care. I carried a deep peace with me for days.

And by October, I was a mess again. Sister Kathryn asked me gently but pointedly, “What would it take for you to hold on to that truth?”

There’s a story of St. Cuthbert (for this All Saints’ Day) about how he was preaching in some Scottish town when he foresaw that the people were about to be tricked. He warned them, “Whatever happens outside, don’t pay attention. It’s just the Enemy trying to keep you from receiving the good news.”

Not long after, the congregation heard cries of fire from the street, and most ran out in panic. But when they arrived, what seemed to have been smoke and flames disappeared. And they realized they should have trusted Cuthbert.

I feel for those people.

No matter how I’ve been reassured or how certain I am of God’s care, the voices of doom can be persuasive. The bad news can feel more real than the good. The present disaster, more powerful than the eternal savior.

But don’t be tricked: God is God, maker of heaven and earth. Counter of our hairs. Keeper of our lives.

What would it take to hold onto that truth?


Steady my heart, unfailing one.



Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.


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