Take time to see reflections of God’s glory
On another morning, we visited a different beach, this one all rocks and cliffs: no sand, no real access to the ocean at all. But we climbed down the rocks just a little and found small pools left behind by the high tide.
Tiny flowery creatures called those pools home. They closed up tight when you ran your finger over them. Miniature crabs brandished their claws and hissed defiantly at us. Some people see the machinery of evolution in moments like those, but I found myself thinking of the one who created those creatures and their home.
That night I prayed with Josh and we thanked God for his creation, and for letting us spend the day enjoying it. It was a heartfelt prayer, but it struck me a couple of nights later on final approach to Chicago that I shouldn’t have to go all the way across the country to notice God’s creation.
The plains of Illinois are as much a part of that creation as the hills, canyons, cliffs and beaches of Southern California. The grass in my yard houses an ecosystem as vast as those tide pools. The squirrels and rabbits and crows and dogs and cats that populate my neighborhood are no less well-designed for their surroundings than the killer whales and crabs and California condors I spent the week appreciating. God’s craftsmanship leaps out of the world in which I live — just as surely as it does from the world in which I vacationed.
The world in range of my senses right now speaks eloquently of God’s glory, power, grace and kindness. The sparrows and grass, Jesus reminded us, are all the testimony we really need to the God who provides for us.
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “and every common bush afire with God.” But not everyone notices; “only he who sees takes off his shoes. The rest just pick blackberries.”
I confess to being something of a blackberry-picker, going about business as usual, busily striving and rarely stopping to stand still and reverent and barefoot before the common bushes all around me that blaze with the glory of God.
How can I see the world teeming with life without thinking of God’s provision? How can I see an immense blue sky and not praise his glory? How can I hear crickets chirping and not wonder about the song God made me to sing?
Worse, how can I fail to see in people around me the reflection of the glory of God? How can I walk past my son building with his Lego toys and not praise God for the intricacies of his growing mind and body? How can I fail to appreciate my wife’s beauty and charm, or resent her criticism instead of recognizing the ways in which God has used her to make me a better man?
Christians can shout so loudly that God created the heavens and earth and yet live lives that are so untouched by that reality. We insist that every common bush certainly is afire with God, and yet we live life fully shod and always in search of more blackberries.
Maybe it’s time to take off our shoes and drop our blackberry buckets. Take a walk and ask God to give you eyes to see his glory around you. Thank him for what you see and learn along the way. Take pictures of the world around you and spend time meditating prayerfully on them. Visit a zoo or an aquarium, or sit in your yard and watch the squirrels play, and allow that time to lead you into the presence of God in whatever way it will.
I don’t know that you’ll have any great epiphanies. Most likely you’ll just hear what God has been trying to say to you in his still, small voice for a long time. But it’s often in that still, small voice that God speaks his deepest, most significant mysteries.
Make sure not to miss it.
PATRICK ODUM is pulpit minister for the Northwest church in Chicago. He maintains a Web site at faithnet.faithsite.com.