Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Voice of Spring

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:9)

Early one morning, while watching from the window the low clouds that settle between the hills and then evaporate as the sun's heat turns them to steam, I read from Hosea 6:

Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn; He will come to us like the rain . . .
[mankind's] faithfulness is like a morning cloud and like the early dew;
it departs.

As the mist in the mountains dissipated, I thought: God says MY faithfulness is like that. Yet, God's faithfulness to me is like the promise of each sunrise, like the drenching storms last week that soaked our just-planted garden, coaxing life from those hard, dry seeds.

God voices truth in every season, but for me, there's just something about springtime: the budding trees, the butterflies, the young green that tips the trees and softens the grass. Even crinkly caterpillars and falling pollen make me smile.

God's Word tells us that He made everything simply by speaking. And then He goes on to detail the marvels of his creation in awe-inspiring terms: from the glories of the sun and moon as they cross the heavens, to the industrious example of tiny ants as they work incessantly to serve their community.

In fact, God says that His creation speaks audibly to everyone, even those who aren't listening, even those who doubt His existence.

The heavens declare ther glories of God and the skies display His handiwork. Day after Day, they pour forth speech; night after night, they dsplay knoweldge. There is no speech or laungage where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1)

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. (Romans 1:20)

As charming as the just-bloomed daisies and violets are in our field below, 1 Peter 1:24-25 reminds me that life here is passing: All men are like grass, and their glory like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.

Looking out my window at the mountains, I recall God's promised protection: As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, both now and forevermore. (Psalm 125:2)

When I awoke to a thunk against my window, I opened the door to discover a plain sparrow on the porch, looking dazed. He quickly flew away. I remember Jesus saying no sparrow falls apart from God's will. "Do not fear, therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:31)

And so it goes: God speaks through lilies, and fruit trees and rocks and eagles and hills -- indeed, through every aspect of His creation!

Behind every nature lesson we see this basic-but-breathtaking truth: God speaks to us. His voice is not just in His inspired Word, but in every atom of creation. He reveals Himself so that we will know Him by faith in His Son.

Lord, help us to see Your glory in all you have made, and most of all, to know Your glory in Jesus.

God, who in various times and in various ways
spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,
whom He has appointed heir of all things,
through whom He also made the worlds.
(Hebrews 1:1-2)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Shadow of Your Wings

Because you are my help, I will sing in the shadow of your wings. (Ps. 63:7)

What a beautiful word picture: we are held close beneath God's loving and powerful wings! He invites us there; God shows his mercy to those who make their home there; Jesus longed to gather his people there.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Jesus, in Matt. 23:37)

The image is of a mother hen (yes, it's a nurturing female image), caring for her vulnerable chicks beneath her strong, tender wings. In the shadow of God's wings, we find perfectly loving protection. As we discover that we are safely held near His heart, He frees us from fear, to love and serve Him with abandon and delight. "The Lord is my salvation; whom shall I fear?" (Ps. 27:4)

Yet, those long wings of refuge cast a shadow.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You,
And in the shadow of Your wings
I will make my refuge
Until these calamities have passed by. (Ps. 57:1)

That shadow may feel confined, cramped, darker than we'd hoped. We can't see the horizon; we want to stretch our own wings and soar, on our own fuel. The shadow of our suffering looms large to us, feels threatening, suffocating; all the while, God's nurturing wing is even nearer than that suffering.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Ps. 91:1 & 4)

We can trust Him as our place of rest. He covers us: sheltering, guarding, teaching us how to trust the Righteous One, who soars with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2). Whether we find ourselves in broad light or dusky shadow, our Father surrounds us with His powerful love.

May God give us grace to sing in the shadow of His wings.

Afflictions are but the shadow of His wings.
(George MacDonald, The Curate of Glaston)