Call them migratory flyways. There are four in North America: Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific. These distinct flight paths for migratory birds are set by biologists. They were formally set in 1948 by biologists who worked with migratory waterfowl. Even earlier, the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, established treaties with Canada and Mexico for the protection of birds that make all three countries their habitat during parts of a year.
Yet, the human recognition of established flight paths for migrating birds is new. The flyways are ancient.
Today, a gusty northwest wind has caused the release of thousands of leaves from nearby ash trees. For every leaf it is the first and final trip to earth. These leaves have come to the place where they perform their second function: to renew the earth as they decay. The annual color change and flutter to earth of millions of deciduous tree leaves is an ancient event.
Yet, seasonal change and bird migration are relatively new.
So is the annual storage of food by squirrels. The seasonal ritual of burying walnuts in the earth by the squirrels has been underway for many days already. Squirrels have responded to the soon to come cold of winter by caching food in the ground for centuries, even millennia. Forests have grown from this rodent behavior.
But squirrels, leaves and birds are not the ancient.
The way of Creator God is truly ancient. But not ancient in a negative, or being ‘out of date’ or antiquated way. God’s ways are both ageless and contemporary. Have you gazed at a fall forest hillside ablaze in color? Have you witnessed the wonderful mystery of a migratory flock of birds overhead? Has your breath ever been taken by the majesty of the thousands of stars in the night sky? Could the ancient ways of One who daily creates such majesty be out of date?
Ancient is a human term. It signifies the passage of a great deal of time. God has no clock. God has no day. God has no calendar. God is not ancient. God is now. God is active. God is all-knowing. We cannot comprehend the majesty that is God’s alone. But, we can trust Him.
When the subject of God comes before us we have two choices. Trust Him and follow His path or refuse and take our own path. It is incredible to think that we humans would ever say to God, “I’ll go my way, not yours.” But we do. We turn from the One who made migration paths, seasons, and the instinct to cache food, and go our way. Almighty God will not force us to walk with Him.
God’s prophet, Jeremiah wrote these invitational words from God. Our two choices are included. He wrote, thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Jeremiah 6:16)
The choice seems clear. Ask for the ancient paths. The good way is in them. God has promised rest for our souls.
A walk with the camera this afternoon revealed marvelous things. It was not a walk in an exotic place. Our backyard is comfortable, familiar.
On a set timetable my walk was brief. Limiting time outside narrows our ability to see things. Time limits distract us from paying attention.
Yet, any time outside is beneficial. It takes the edges off. Worries shrink. Problems seem solvable. Marvelous things can be seen by distracted eyes. Mine saw three.
The sugar maple in our yard signals season change. Maples herald fall, they inspire awe in the process. A Northern Flicker revealed the second marvelous object, Virginia Creeper berries. Stems a deeper red than the most scarlet Maple, the purple berries create a stunning contrast that draws the eye. For number three you have the right to disagree. It was a common house fly. To be specific a cold common house fly, cold enough to allow a camera within a foot of its highly visible perch. This fly will likely not reach its full life span. In two days, the forecast calls for frost. When not annoying me, I find beauty in a single fly.
What do we do with marvelous things? We can relish them. Changing leaves bring the reminder of cold to come. We can appreciate them. Marvelous things quiet our souls, and marvelous things are also created to give glory to God. The source of everything marvelous is God. Breathtaking? It’s God. Magnificent, thank God. Spectacular? God.
These three marvelous things of today have long-standing origins. All were planned by God before recorded history. There is no word descriptive enough for that. It is far, far beyond marvelous. These three simple marvels were planned long ago and have occurred with predictable timing every fall season. That kind of dependable only comes from God. For He is faithful. Millennia have passed, and every fall leaves turn color, Virginia Creeper berries turn purple and flies go into slow motion. These marvels happen every fall. In them God shows us His great faithfulness.
God is faithful in all things. Isaiah reminds us. He said, “Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” (Isaiah 25:1) When God tells us He loves us, it’s true. He tells us Jesus died for our sins. He did. This is the greatest act of faithfulness ever given. This is beyond marvelous.
Purple asters are in bloom. Wait, it is a bigger event than you think. Purple in petals is beauty compounded. Purple framed in green is eye pleasure worth seeking.
It gets bigger.
The purple aster blooms from late August to late September in ideal conditions. In a prairie or a road ditch Purple Aster, Stiff Golden rod and the miniature white blossoms of Heath Aster create a spectacular blend of complimentary contrasting colors.
A recent walk to view this early fall beauty was rewarding. My eyes were treated to the delicate purple of Smooth Blue Aster blossoms. All three colors, goldenrod yellow, and aster purple and white were visible. Enjoying the autumn color of Smooth Purple Aster is a pleasurable seasonal event. These are fall color in miniature.
The arrival of autumn purple is predictable. So is Heath Aster white and goldenrod yellow. Toss in the brilliant red of Sumac and the range of color approaches a rainbow.
Fall colors are beautiful. The brilliant colors please our eyes. It happens every fall in North America. Hundreds of thousands of people trek to see the fall colors. They seek the mega colors draping entire mountain sides, entire hillsides in mile after mile of color.
Think about the much bigger truth. Have you thought of about it? There is freedom in knowing it.
Explain fall color as phenology, the seasonal or cyclical occurrence of natural events. Have you thought about the remarkable fact that these fall colors are seasonally predictable? Fall color change is regular. We know it will come within days of the previous year. No human will can alter this predictable change. Fall colors come on a timetable we cannot alter or impact.
What is the bigger truth? Fall color change reveals where the power is. God has it. While we greatly enjoy the purple, brilliant yellows, contrasting white, and deep Sumac reds; we cannot command them to appear on a whim. Look behind the curtain of fall, see its Director.
This truth about God’s power. Seasonal color change contains a profound life truth. No human wisdom, intuition, or strategy can overcome God’s. When we forget God has the power, the result is frustration at best, and heartache in the extreme.
When we forget God has all the power wisdom and authority we lose an opportunity. Letting HIM lead. In the Bible we read these words, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30)
How short-sighted we are. Should we struggle to trust in our imperfect wisdom, or put our trust in almighty, all-knowing, everywhere present God?
Our Forefathers had it written on our money: In God We Trust.
It is so common 71% of the earth is covered with it. An aside worth mentioning, humans live on the 29% not covered. The body of a newborn baby is 78% of this common substance. It is ubiquitous. You know by now our subject is water. It is a global substance. It is abundant. Water is so common. Common things are often taken for granted.
No other physical object has the properties of water. It can be solid-ice. It can be liquid-in a glass. It can be a gas-steam.
Water does not boil until it reaches 212° degrees Fahrenheit (100° C). It freezes at 32° Fahrenheit (0° C). These two physical properties of water make life on earth possible. There are other properties which make life on earth possible. Water has the highest surface tension for all liquids. Insects walk on water because of surface tension. Water is “the universal solvent”. Many other substances dissolve in water, more in fact than any other substance.
Water is more than amazing. For a human, it means life. It is so important that each human on the planet should drink a half-gallon of it each day. Try it. But not all at once.
There is another property of water. Because each water molecule is two parts oxygen and one-part hydrogen, pure water is clear. That is because these two elements are invisible in nature.
Clear water is beautiful. Clear, clean water quenches our thirst.
Jesus compared Himself to water. He did not say he was like water. He said He was “living water.” He spoke these words to a woman at a well in Samaria, “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4:14)
Thirsty? We have two kinds of thirst: physical and spiritual. The woman who spoke to Jesus that day knew about her physical thirst. She came to the well to quench it. When she got there Jesus reminded her of her spiritual thirst. He told her about the other kind of water-Living. After a talk with Jesus she went away with her spiritual thirst satisfied.
We drink when we feel thirsty. Living Water cures the thirst of our soul.
Have a talk with Jesus the Maker of earth’s clear water. Tell Him about the thirst of your soul. He is the Living Water. His promise of eternal life is 100%.