Where is your favorite place to be alone with God? One of my favorite places is outdoors enjoying God’s creation. I love how Jesus can teach us valuable lessons as we observe and meditate upon nature.
One of the most poignant lessons came to me one day while I was taking a walk. In order to still my mind and listen to what Jesus might want to say to me, I decided to meditate on the verse “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Historically, the City of Sacramento has a reputation as the “City of Trees” in recognition of its beautiful tree canopy. As I walked along the streets of our neighborhood enjoying the beauty of the trees, it occurred to me that trees are the epitome of stillness and that perhaps I might learn something from them. For example, trees stay firmly rooted to the ground and their roots go deep for the nourishment they need. Their trunks, branches and leaves stretch upward soaking in the sun and rain that help them grow. In some ways it appears that they aren’t doing anything except standing around drinking in their sustenance, growing stronger and taller day by day, year by year.
That’s only part of the story. Trees also share with others what they have received: shelter for various creatures of the earth and sky; shade for the weary; some trees provide fruit for us to eat or flowers for us to enjoy; their leaves release oxygen into the atmosphere; eventually some trees give of themselves so that we can build our homes and provide for numerous products we enjoy. It may appear that they just stand around doing nothing, but in fact they provide invaluable service to our world.
Additionally, trees experience changing seasons of life and have a multitude of different qualities. Some trees loose their leaves in the winter appearing weak and vulnerable; others remain lush and green throughout the year. There are a multitude of shapes, sizes, and shades of green (my favorite color). Some are stronger, taller, and more majestic while others are more flexible and bend easily in the wind. Yet God designs each species of trees for a specific purpose and each one depends upon God for their nourishment through the soil, rain and sun.
Like the trees, we can be still and drink deeply of God’s presence, love and grace. We too need time to soak in his goodness and allow his Spirit to work deep within us so that his love can flow in and through us out to others. Out of the fullness in our hearts, we can provide comfort for the weary, food and shelter for the needy. Perhaps God will use us to bring beauty and hope to a wounded soul. Maybe in our time of need, we will provide an opportunity for someone else to experience the joy of serving. And just like the trees, we have seasons in our own lives–seasons of outward fruitfulness as well as seasons of apparent dormancy or illness and physical limitations. Whatever the season, as we sink our roots deeply into God and reach up to him for our sustenance he will bring forth good fruit.
Jesus says, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” John 15:4
In what ways has nature spoken to you about the goodness and beauty of our triune God? What season might you be in right now?
Spend some time today soaking in God’s goodness and love; then allow that to flow through you to others.
You might also want to check out this song by Steven Curtis Chapman on Youtube: http://youtu.be/lcX5106rJLY