What’s your perspective today? When I returned home this morning, I glanced down the length of the sidewalk, turned splotchy gray from rain. Quarter-inch puddles stood here and there in the uneven spots, evidence of the passage of years or else of the impatience of the long-ago sidewalk crew. A patch of black dirt stood next to a single mud puddle that reflected the darkened sky. Not such a cheery scene. However, in the center of the six-by-six-foot patch of black dirt grew a sizeable tangle of some sort of shamrock green foliage. I always take a few moments to draw near this little patch of exuberant green to contemplate dew or rain drops winking like diamonds on the surface of the leaves.
How closely are you looking? As I stepped closer, I avoided three snails, each one using its miraculously-constructed “muscular foot” (I had to look that up!) to push against the sidewalk and propel itself along. When my grandsons were younger, I had, perforce, developed the habit of glancing at the ground for little treasures, like roly-poly bugs, lady bugs, bottlecaps, coins and anything else that attracted their curiosity and their magpie-like vision.
Looking closely at God’s handiwork is a good habit. It is obvious that those whom Holy Spirit used to write the Bible were keen observers of nature. I am grateful to God that He provides glimpses of nature even if we must live and work in an urban environment. How often have I heard the chirp of sparrows in bushes as I walked into my office building? How many times have I thrilled to see the sunset from the lofty elevation of an interstate as I drove home on winter evenings? And, in recent years, I have found deep beauty and peace in city parks. But you have to pay attention. You have to look closely to see things like diamond-speckled leaves, right outside your front door.
Beauty, wonder and peace. As I anticipate the next few weeks, which will include a repeat surgery and recovery, I am determined to focus on the countless good things God has provided, good things like knowledge and skill to physicians, bodies that generally work well (which is itself an unaccountable miracle when you think of how many moving parts we humans have!), food, shelter, family and friends, His Word, His powerful and sweet, sweet presence, a good church, and the way that carefully considering nature brings peace.
I wrote the following poem more than thirty years ago. I’ve lived in several homes since then. In each one, God always included a place where I could sit and drink in the sunset and sunrise, even though the view was often partially obstructed. Nonetheless, I sensed His special presence at sunrise and sunset and at any point in the day where I slowed down, observed His handiwork closely and gave Him thanks.
Won’t you take time, today, to slow down and stand in awe at the beauty with which God has lovingly surrounded you? Won’t you take time to be with God? He is waiting for you – eagerly, watchfully, joyfully.
“God changes the world for you”
God changes the world, twice, for you each day.
He dims the light
softens the sound
cools the air
and flames heaven with patterned colors,
all to delight your soul, calm your spirit, and give you rest.
As a tender parent, He blankets earth, and you, with soothing peace.
Stop. Still your hands. Let your Maker tell you of His love for you.
Pause in your rush to do. Listen.
He says “Be with Me” as He said to Adam and Eve in Eden.
Honor His love for you.
Let Him show you how He turns green branches into inky black filigree.
Let Him delight your ear with birdsong and thrumming silence.
Let Him cool your skin with gentle whispers of wind that slide through the sheltering trees.
Breathe deeply. Take in the fragrances floating in cooler air.
Let Him give your body rest.
Simply stop. Open your heart and your eyes to your Maker.
And thank Him.
You will feel His presence.
You will know His love.