Recently, Sarah came home to a whirl of activity. With only two weeks as the last time she would be at home as a single woman, our days were filled to the hilt. Cleaning out closets to figure out what precious items she should send to her new home in England, meeting with dear friends, going to all of our favorite places, trying to get in all of our favorite traditions and finishing 3 papers for Oxford all during these days.
Evening walks have become a rhythm in our lives since she was a tiny girl. Breathing in the unique beauty every night of our mountains shimmering with golds, pinks, blues and breathing in the safe intimacy of walking with a best friend kindled our hearts with enough energy to make it through all the demands of these days.
"Breathe in the beauty of God every day that you are married, sweet precious. Leave your burdens in His capable hands every day before you go to bed. Remember, 'Fret not, it leads only to evil doing. Taking time to notice His fingerprints in your life will give you perspective every day--He is bigger than all of the issues in your life. He is more powerful than all the stresses that you bear--let Him take them."
Somehow I wanted to say every wise thing I had ever told her through all the years.
Matthew 4:23-5:1 sets up a similar scene. Jesus had been traveling through the regions of Galilee teaching in synagogues, speaking to small and large groups, and healing many people. We read that large crowds followed him from many villages in Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond.
Jesus must have been weary and spent from giving out so much to so many, and yet he obviously drew deeply from his reserves. He "went up on a mountain" as was his habit, invited his disciples to sit near him, and began to speak words that would change lives.
There is a gently sloping hillside on the northeast corner near the Sea of Galilee where some have speculated he preached this message. Or it might have been another mountain. But it must have been a beautiful natural setting with grass, trees, flowers, birds, and possibly the sea sparkling nearby. Jesus used the very hillside for teaching eternal truths. To the thousands of spiritually hungry and hurting people surrounding him, he used the flowers and birds to proclaim the mysteries of the kingdom of God:
"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink;
nor for your body, as to what you will put on.
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?...
And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?" Matthew 6:25-26,28-30
Can you imagine listening to these words while resting on the grass and watching the gentle mountain breeze entice the wildflowers into a delicate dance on the meadow as chirping birds fly effortlessly from tree to tree? How could you help but feel the pressures of your daily troubles lift as you breathe the fresh air and hear the voice of Truth remind you to rest and trust?
Note that what Jesus was doing in this passage was very similar to what I did with Sarah the day of that amazing sunset. He was saying, "Come look!" at God's handiwork and then pointing beyond the handiwork to God himself.
"Look," Jesus told the crowds and his disciples that day. "Observe." Another translation says "consider." Jesus wanted his followers to pay attention to God's reality and presence in the world around them. He also wanted them to ponder and focus their attention beyond the natural to the God who wanted them to trust him. He was giving them the gift of inspiration!
If we desire to pass on that gift to our children, we will always be on the lookout for opportunities to tell them to "look" and "observe" and ponder. We must be ready to point them to signs of his living presence in our daily lives—and also to point beyond our circumstances to him who is beyond the limitations of this world. This awareness of divine reality helps open their hearts to God's will and pleasure at any moment and to lift them above the tedium of the mundane.
When we take the opportunity to expose our children to the glory of God displayed in a rainbow or powerful ocean waves or a star-studded night sky, we are helping them understand that there is a Being much bigger than themselves who created the universe and holds it together with his power.
When we tell them about our answered prayers and those amazing "coincidences" that confirm God's presence in our lives, we help them realize that God is close and caring and active in our daily circumstances. When we explain the things we have been able to do in the Holy Spirit's power that we couldn't accomplish alone, we help them understand how God works and what he can accomplish through us. As we tell them"look" and "observe," we instill the hope that a supernatural Being, more powerful than we can understand, intervenes in time and space to help us and to interact with our lives.
Have you thought about the world around you as a way to experience God's wonderful provision and power lately?