The Testimony of Geese

Lurking” begins in late winter. There is no malice or mischief in this waiting, it is intentional. There is still ice on wetlands. The “lurkers” stand on it. Some late winter days they loiter for hours. As warmer weather approaches and the ice melts from wetland waters, the “lurkers” get serious. No other loiterer is permitted to be in the place the two original “waiters/lurkers” have chosen. These waiters are not employees of a restaurant. They wear feathers. They fly. They honk. Sometimes they perch with webbed feet on the roofs of buildings to keep watch over their wetland turf. The early spring lurkers are Canada Geese (Brantis Canadensis) Imagine a large bird with a long neck and flat, webbed feet on the peak of a roof. But there is no danger, they can fly.DSC_0129_985sig

You may wonder why write about Canada geese in spring-when it’s near the end of fall. Today, the geese provide us with perspective. Winter is coming. These geese live outside 24/7. They have no warm building to escape to. Geese do not possess cupboards filled with food. They do have down feathers that keep them warmer than most of our human constructed warm weather gear. They will face freezing temperatures, snow, even blizzards. They live outside all day, all night in conditions we humans would expire from. They live.DSC_0154_993sig

Now, the rest of the spring story. Before the ice is off the wetland, the pair of Canadas begin nesting. The goose (female) builds the nest. She lines it with down from her own body. The gander(male) becomes his mate’s consistent body-guard. He is a true force.  25-30 days must pass as the female incubates and the male guards. Reading about this miraculous process does not provide the magnitude of effort two birds expend to produce a clutch of 4-6 young. She stays on the nest except for brief periods to get water and enough food to sustain her. My memories include a Canada goose incubating her eggs and observing her with head down and neck stretched over the nest-during a snowstorm. I got cold and went inside. The next morning, with ice covering the wetland she was still there. The gander was still guarding. That day for almost 30 more, they stayed on task. My activities that day after sunset included a warm meal, and a warm bed sheltered from any of the freezing elements both geese were experiencing for the entire night. That’s persistence. That’s unselfishness and dedication. It is self-sacrificing, all for the next generation.DSC_0160_996sig

Now, the perspective we can take from the life of a Canada goose. They never give up. This may sound strange, but they never complain. Cold or wet, comfortable or not geese persist-in every season. Yes, you say-they are geese! But they provide a living example we can learn from.

How are geese able to persevere, in all conditions? It’s mercy. It’s great faithfulness. The living example of the geese for us reveals the mercy and faithfulness of God. As Creator of the geese. God provides everything Canada geese need. Water, food, oxygen, yes-shelter, instincts to nest, fly, protect and stay with the same mate for life, these are evidence of the faithful mercy of God. You know the geese cannot generate any of these things by their own strength.

It is a short step now from the example of the involvement of God with the Canada geese. You and I were made “in the image of God.” Why is that important? Only human beings are given the distinct and separate designation of being “made in God’s image.” No other living things fit this category. Humans were made by God to reflect the character of God. We fail often at this-we are sinners. But God never fails. His faithful love exists each day for the Canada Geese who are facing the extremes of a northern winter. Even greater is the faithful love God offers us. It never ends, never ceases and wonder of wonders, it begins new every morning. Look at the geese and see the great faithfulness of God. Best of all, you and I can do nothing to earn this great love of God, it is not necessary. God loves us first, long before we have any idea we need His love. That’s a miracle.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23DSC_0167_998sig

While Chickadees Flew Overhead

A man I respected once explained what goodness is. He said, “Goodness is when everything is just right.” When everything is just right in nature things are beautiful and serene. Experience this once and you will desire the experience again. This kind of goodness we seek.

Where does the goodness and serenity of nature come from? Try this explanation. The peace and serenity humans delight to find in nature comes from the Sovereign presence of God. Can this be the explanation for the bliss humans feel when outside? It not only can, but is the reason we delight in a sunrise or sunset. It’s why we are awed at a rainbow or the mirror images on the surface of an entirely calm lake. It is a distinct pleasure to experience the sovereignty of God.

Sovereign means supreme, absolute, matchless. God is all of this. God is infinitely endlessly more. He is the author of the serenity and peace found in nature. His infinite nature instills an endless fascination and awe in the place beyond the current building you are in. He is the final authority, no one is greater. Because He is Sovereign, his presence is everywhere; especially in nature. It inspires the awe in us. This fact often escapes ultra-busy human beings.

You want this serenity. To understand why and see the sovereign presence of God, take a child outside. The best age is under three. My 20-month granddaughter demonstrated this to me recently. There is a coulee (deep valley) in their backyard. This little girl delights in this place. We sat together on the ground near the top multiple times. She was enchanted with the chickadees flying in the trees overhead. The first time we went I said, “shh,” she became still, reverently still. While I delight in the quietness and beauty of that place, watching my granddaughter enjoy it was a greater delight. It is not an accident, this quiet stillness from a 20-month old. We did this two more times; her response was always quiet, reverent awe. She’s 20 months old! Can you imagine a 20-month old sitting still, for even 2 minutes?

Jeremiah must have sat on the edge of a coulee. He sensed “everything being just right.” He wrote, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. (Jeremiah 32:17)

 Just one more truth needs to be expressed here. Sovereign God, Creator of all life and the peace and serenity of nature loves you. Remember, nothing is too hard for Him. Sit in a place where chickadees fly overhead. If possible, take a little child. Know God’s “everything is just right” is for you.DSC_0060_785sig

Hope, Perfect, Everlasting

This week is unlike any other in my memory. It seems the world is falling apart. Appalling human behavior produces fear in our hearts, the world as we know it, appears in shambles. Though difficult to acknowledge, evil activities are daily occurrences in our world.

We search for something to give us hope. In times of trouble we are even frantic for it. Yet even in darkest times, such as this week, there is always hope. In a world that seems chaotic, and hopeless- hope is accessible. Really, hope is always near.

Your skeptical human nature says, “no chance…have you seen what is happening in this world?” Since you are already dubious, here is one more statement to question. The moon, full this week, provides us with concrete evidence that hope is always near. The moon? You are thinking, “this is a reach?!!” Yes, the moon is consistent evidence there is a God, and God’s existence is reason for great hope. The writer of Psalm 89 called the moon a “faithful witness” in describing the authenticity of blessings from God to King David. God’s blessing to David would be as dependable as His faithful witness, the moon.DSC_0012_744sig

The earth’s moon has consistent, predictable phases. They are certain. When the moon is full each month, the human eye cannot miss this lunar witness. Even when the moon wanes and becomes a thin crescent above earth it silently points our hearts to God’s nearness. Imagine, 283,000 miles away from earth, this satellite is a constant reminder that God is present and faithful. Sometimes full, sometimes a curved white splinter.

Do you know one thing seeing the moon could do for you? Provide you with hope, comfort and peace for your fear filled heart. God never fails to keep His promises. He placed a large, daily reminder for all who will look that he never ceases to love and protect…even in great tragedy.

You could shake your fist at God, some do. You could claim He is no God to let such pain and suffering happen or earth. But we do not know the mind of God. He allows evil on earth-for a season. There is another response- you could bow your head and say, “God I will obey you before I understand.”

While you think about that, know this, there are at least two things hope in God will not be. First, hope in God will not be limited. It never runs out, there is no time of day when it is not available. God’s refuge of protection never ceases. Second, putting hope in God will not be limited to certain people. God offers His refuge of love and mercy for everyone-no matter who you are, or what you have done. Jesus even forgave the thief on the cross next to him.

In the book of Romans (15:13) Paul described God as the God of all hope. In this verse Paul also said hope in God will fill us with joy and peace.

Look at the moon, even when it is a crescent. As you gaze remind yourself that God made this beautiful earth satellite and prescribed in advance its precise orbit. Gaze at the moon and in this world filled with evil  be reminded-there is hope for humans in the God of all hope. The Maker of the moon loves you.DSC_0041_746sig

Strength and Confidence

 

Has your day been hectic? Did you try multi-tasking? How did that go? Does hurtling through your day work well? Our culture promotes a go all the time lifestyle. Does it really work?

In 1938 Fredric Wisloff, a pastor, wrote these words, “quietness is strength, hustle and bustle are weakness.” Opposite of what the world tells us, strength is found in quietness. We do not realize it, but one who is continually busy loses strength. It is subtle. Pastor Wisloff went on to write, “much quietness imparts much strength.”

Wisloff got his ideas from Isaiah. Isaiah wrote about strength and confidence. In Isaiah 30:15 we read, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength…’” Isaiah combined quietness with confidence in God. Strength comes from confidence in God.DSC_0045_539sig

Determining to be quiet in a world that never stops will not be easy. Humanly speaking, it will be almost impossible. When our confidence is in God, He will provide a quietness to our soul that strengthens. Quietness equals confidence and strength. These are desirable qualities and they originate with God. He gives them when we are quiet. God desires quietness in us. He provides when we ask.

Multi-tasking, and a full schedule set our focus on things that eventually weaken us. Quietness? Well, it is counter-cultural. It is difficult for us to believe that the benefits of quietness outweigh the benefits of a busy hectic life.DSC_0066_550sig

Look outside, search for the quietness found there. Quietness is found in a Monarch on a flower. It’s a Painted Lady sipping nectar from a flower, a forest in sunlight, a glass calm lake, and a lone mushroom on a birch log. In each, there in the quiet strength that God puts in all of nature. Quietness is His gift to frantic humans. It brings confidence and strength. Quietness is my need. What if you were quiet? What might you hear? The offer of confidence and strength is too good to pass.DSC_0024_584sigDSC_0001_719sig

Evening and Morning

And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Genesis 1:5

Evening…

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And there was evening and there was morning as God created 5 more days. (See Genesis 1:31)  Evening and morning…humans have received them each day since those first 6 days. We received them again today: evening and morning.

 

Morning…

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Father of Dew

Is it possible to learn something from the dew? Consider with me three things about dew.

First the teaching.  “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” Deuteronomy 32:2

This morning, after three days of clouds and off and on rain, the sun rose in a clear sky. What makes dew? The science behind dew involves water vapor, temperature and a thing called dew point,. When the air after sunset cools to a temperature below the dew point, or temperature at which air can no longer hold the water vapor it contains, dew forms on objects outside, like grass. That is a basic explanation of the science.DSC_0324 (3)sig

A dew-covered earth is beautiful. When sunlight hits the tiny droplets of water there is a sparkle of water diamonds. Miniature shimmers of color are given off. Dew filled mornings are often peaceful and understandably wet. Dew actually provides plants in dry areas of the earth with a regular source of moisture. Mot grasslands of the world receive low amounts of moisture, on average between 6 and 24 inches annually. Dew is a significant source of moisture in these areas.

Look at the dew, it represents the loving power of God. It is a visible symbol of His presence.

Second, the source. Job of the Bible is asked by God about dew. God asked Job, “Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew?” Job 38:28 Science says water vapor, and temperature form dew. The dig deeper question is WHY. Why does water condense on objects outside when the temperature drops to the dew point. Why does it work with perfect predictability-every time? How does a water cycle system so enormous to cover the entire earth function with such meticulous perfection? Job knew the answer. It delights me to be reminded God’s power is always, perfectly in operation.DSC_0337 (2)sig

Finally, the blessing. A blessing is an approval. This blessing is from God. It is for you. “May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine.” (Genesis 27:28) What did you just receive? A request to the God of the universe that He provide you with the “fine mist” of heaven on your life today. May it cause your life to flourish.  May you sense God’s nearness to you throughout the day. May God open your eyes that you may see how He is providing you with everything you need.DSC_0320 (3)sig

 

1 Tree for You- The Same for Me

My thoughts have wandered often to trees today. My mind plays over and over two things significant about trees and human life. All day, to this moment my breaths have been regular. Each breath brings life-sustaining oxygen to my lungs. You’ve been doing that too. The tree in the photo is almost ready to shed its leaves. Since late April this Maple tree has produced oxygen as a bi-product of photosynthesis. What it really needs is the carbon dioxide you and I have been breathing out all day. When its leaves fall off it will have produced enough oxygen for you and me-for a whole year. This has been on my mind all day. DSC_0120_661
This is the other thing. We have established that the maple in the picture has produced enough oxygen for you and me, what about all the other people in the world? The other thing that has played over and over today is how many trees scientists estimate are growing now, today on earth. This is the number which came up more than once during my search: 3 trillion…3 with 12 zeros trailing it! This last truth just drops me. Divide the total number of people on earth into 3 trillion. The answer is how many trees there are for EVERY person on earth.
Its 400. 400 trees for you, 400 for me and 400 for every other person-on earth! What have we been discussing here- trees, oxygen, you and me? What we haven’t discussed is abundance. There is an overwhelming abundance of oxygen available to you, me and all of our fellow earth dwellers. Is this abundance an accident? Did this balance of life come from self-organization of earth biomes which over time balanced with human life? Inconceivable. No need to hug a tree for this marvelous gift of abundant oxygen. Fall to your knees and thank God.DSC_0108_655sigDSC_0177sig