The changing of seasons and the beauty of creation are great reminders of how amazing God is. A recent weather adventure in my home state of Minnesota reminded me of how much I love the variety of seasons here and how much we all appreciate spring.
On a Friday night in mid-April, there were no carts available in Midwestern grocery stores. The weather forecasters predicted snow in feet instead of inches, and while they had been wrong many times, there was a chance shoppers may actually be stuck in their homes and could not survive without milk, bread, and frozen pizza. The following day brought a blizzard warning and up to two feet of snow. Following the snow, neighbors broke out the shovels and snowblowers and got to work . . . and then they got to work again after the snowplows dumped what felt like ten feet of heavy snow at the end of driveways.
Six days later, children were biking and rollerblading in shorts, teenage girls were painting toenails on the back steps, and homeowners were breaking out the patio furniture and dusting off the grill. Neighbors were all out again, but this time there was energy, joy, and laughter. The birds were singing cheerful songs, the tulips were growing, and the last bits of ice were moving down the river. People who had not seen each other for months were stopped on the sidewalk, soaking up rays of sunshine while they chatted about how beautiful the day was, especially in light of the previous weekend.
I am often struck by the beauty of creation. It strikes me at times when I am quiet enough to see and when I am intentional about paying attention. Some of my favorites are the sky, the trees, and water.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1). The portrait of the sky is different every day as the clouds change shape and the sun changes its hue. There is brilliance in a hot summer day, power in the strength of a lightning bolt moving through the night sky, and a million other portraits in between.
There is little more beautiful than snow-covered limbs in winter, except maybe the deep-colored red, orange, and yellow leaves in fall, or the flowering buds in spring, or the intense greens of summer. Even the variety of trees is beyond comprehension. God blesses us every day with these items of beauty that sometimes are here for only a few days before moving to the next stage.
Water clearly shows the creativity and power of the Creator of the universe. The rushing power of mighty waterfalls, the quietly meandering streams, the stillness of a lake in the early morning, and the calming laps of the ocean move our hearts to greater peace.
There are so many amazing facets to creation that we could never tire of talking about: the miracle of the human body healing itself, the intricate perfection of a colony of honey bees, the production of a plant from a tiny seed, the vast array of creatures that live in the depths of the ocean, and so many others.
Take some time today to stop and reflect on the creation around you. Plan a time in the near future to spend time near the water and be still. Take a walk through a forest as spring awakens the land, and simply drink it in. The world rushes in and constantly presses against us. Be intentional today to stop and look around. As spring brings refreshment to the earth, allow the new life of spring around you to bring nourishment to your soul.
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.[a]
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!
Is your life amazing every second of every day? Do you see the light at the end of every single tunnel? Can you keep going at breakneck speed for the rest of your life?
Let’s be honest. The answer is no - for you and every other person who has ever walked on this planet. Some are better at being eternal optimists, but for the most part, many are just good at faking it . . . or living in denial. Pure denial.
There is plenty to drag us down.
There are the heavy things: unexpected job loss, a cancer diagnosis, separation or divorce, aging parents, financial failures, or the untimely death of a loved one.
And then there are those things that threaten to peck you to death like a chicken feasting on a yard full of grain. That person whose expectations you can never meet. The weather that ruined the vacation that was supposed to reboot and recharge you. The picky eaters you have to feed. Every. Single. Day. That coworker you swear was put on this earth to make you go mad. The feeling of being one step behind in everything that is happening around you.
In order to survive instead of crawling into a hole and throwing ourselves an awesome pity party, some of us have gotten pretty good at faking it. We are productive citizens. We succeed at intelligent conversations. We can go out with friends and appear that all is well. We can fake it ’til we make it, right? But faking it is exhausting.
There is a better way (and hey, we have this great t-shirt to remind you of it every time you wear it).
Faith it ‘til you make it.
Yes. So much, yes. Just reading that brings a sigh of relief, a breath of fresh air, a release.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see,” Hebrews 11:1. Where do you put your faith?
There is a great story in the Bible about Jesus and his disciples in a little storm (okay, a big storm). Those disciples were a little bit dense and had some trouble understanding what Jesus was doing.
Read the following excerpts:
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.
“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Matthew 8:22-25
In the following scenario, the disciples are in a boat in the middle of the lake and suddenly see Jesus walking toward them on the water:
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31
Well, okay, then. Jesus calmed a squall. Jesus gave Peter the strength to walk on water. If he did that with them, he can do that with us. We can trust the One who can calm either the storm or the one in the storm.
Our fretting and striving are often in vain, and if we just rest, God will work out the details. If we believe that, we can successfully “faith it ‘til we make it.” So no more faking it. Be real. Be authentic. Share your struggles with your closest friends and with God. Then choose to have the faith to know that it will work out in the end, sometimes not the way we would have chosen, but always in a way that is good.
Heather Schmidt and Jodie Schmidt.