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Reflections

One Unexpected Way the Beautiful Trees Exalt Our God

The forest in which I live is spectacular! It treats my senses every day. The elevated trails I wander put me where I can see the treetops and they go as far as my eyes can see in every direction.

The Beautiful Trees

It would not be unexpected for me to say that the trees exalt God. There are many aspects of them which signal His greatness. They are beautiful, strong, and useful, implying a powerful and creative, Intelligent Designer.

Standing among them, feeling small and in awe, the trees put me in my place. And the shapes of them, especially the pines near which I live, point directly up to their magnificent Creator. What a perspective they provide!

A forest of pine trees
I feel so small among the trees!

Yesterday, the beautiful trees exalted God for me in an unexpected way. My husband and I were in a different part of the forest than we usually walk. Many trees were marked with an orange stripe. My hubby had seen that when he was young, in another forest in another state. There, it meant the tree was marked for removal.

I looked around and could not even attempt to count the number of trees with orange stripes. It hurt my heart! I hoped the marks meant something else and wondered if it would make God sad if so many of His beautiful trees were, indeed, slated for removal.

The Unexpected Exaltation

I suddenly felt an overwhelming awe of God flush over me. He is aware of every tree. Not just the trees in the massive forest where I live, but every single one across the county, state, country, continent, and the world!

A dense forest of pines
God sees every tree on every hill, mountain, and valley, everywhere!

He knows how many trees are out there. And not just that! He is acquainted with every creature which makes its home in every leaf, needle, fruit, branch, trunk, and root of every single one. He is aware when one tree falls, and when another sprouts – across the entire planet!

“I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Isaiah 41:19, 20

“He gives food to every creature.
His love endures for ever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures for ever.

Psalm 136:25, 26

I was struggling to grasp the enormous number of trunks with orange marks. But God not only knows every one of those trees, He knows of every one He has ever made anywhere! That made my head spin.

My head – yes, that’s right! God knows the number of hairs on my head. And he is acquainted with every star in the sky. Of course He sees each and every tree.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Luke 12:7a

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

Psalm 147:4,5

Next time you’re in a forest, I encourage you to stand at the trunk of a tree and look up. Then look around at how many trees there are. Maybe you can go there now in your imagination. What do you feel about God in that moment? What perspective does it put on your relationship with Him?

Perspective from the ground, looking up the trunks of a some very tall pines
Photo by Marco Trinidad on Pexels.com
How many branches, how many needles, how many animals, how many birds, how many insects…? How Great is our God!

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Isaiah 55:12

Good on those trees! In that moment, they were exalting God. They were revealing His splendor to me.

“Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

Psalm 96:12

For me, it was an unexpected reminder of how marvelous, majestic, and mighty our God is. Those trees exalt Him every day just in their existence. Do I? Do you? We also were created to exalt Him. What do others see about Him when they look at us?

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

Psalm 148:13

I want to be a vessel of praise alongside the beautiful trees. They have certainly reminded me of His greatness. May we all exalt God in unexpected ways!

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord.”

Psalm 148:1a, 7-13a, emphasis mine
Categories
Reflections

3 Instances of Compromise and 3 Reasons God is Greater

What comes to mind when you hear the word compromise? Does it carry a negative connotation or a positive one? Are you someone prone to compromise?

Three instances of compromise

  • Personally, I tend to first think of compromise in a negative light. I quickly equate it to the failure to live up to an ideal. For instance, when I commit to getting up early and then compromise with the snooze alarm.
  • Compromise can be valuable. Last weekend, I suggested a walk with my husband to one of our favorite restaurants for lunch. He wanted to watch the game. We compromised with a shorter walk so we could be home to watch the second half while we ate.
  • Recently, I made a mutually beneficial compromise with someone in the professional arena. I made the agreed-upon concessions on my end, but my colleague did not. One-sided compromise is utterly disappointing.

Compromises are sometimes necessary, but they are risky. You take a gamble that you will gain something by giving something. They are ever-present in human relationships.

But you know who never needs to compromise? God!

Three reasons God is greater than compromise

  • He always keeps His Word. If He said it, He’ll do it. He will not compromise on His commitments to us.
  • God’s plan was for His glory and our good from its inception. There are no competing agendas which require compromise. We can fully embrace His will without reservation.
  • God is trustworthy. He doesn’t trick us or send us on fool’s errands. He cares deeply about us.
3 instances of compromise and 3 reasons God is greater
I don’t want to compromise with God. Com means “together”. If I remove myself, I’m left with “His” promise.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Hebrews 10:36

Compromise requires mutual concession. It literally means “together promise”. It can be selfless or selfish. But it has no place in my relationship with God. If I take myself out of the equation, I’m left with His promise and I’m more than ok with that!

“Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I shall live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”

Psalm 119:116

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

2 Corinthians 1:20
Categories
Reflections

God’s Unusual Show And Tell Made A Spectacular Splash!

The memory had escaped the forefront of my mind but was pulled back in an instant when I came across the photo. We had gone hiking near the American River. On previous visits, there had been rapids. On this day, the water was smooth as glass.

I pulled out my camera to take a picture of the reflection of the rocks on the opposite bank. Unbeknownst to me, my husband picked up a large rock and threw it just as I snapped the shot. I was upset with him at first, assuming he had disturbed the calm of the water.

But when I looked at my photo, I was incredulous. I caught his splash on film before it disturbed the serenity. The still, calm water spectacularly reflected the splash. We couldn’t have timed it so perfectly if we’d tried.

Water so glassy that even the splash has a reflection!
The rock in motion looks blue! See the splash above and the reflection below?

I’m not sure I’d ever seen the reflection of a splash before. I may never see one again, at least not in nature. But I’d like to see it happen in me. Let me explain.

As I have been practicing Slow Living, I’ve been meditating on the idea of being still. Even when my mind and body are active, my heart and soul can be still. It does not come naturally, but like I said, I’m practicing.

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”

Psalm 46:10

The most spectacular application I see of God’s Splashy Show and Tell is this: When an existence is characterized by unusual peace, even disturbances reflect peacefully.

Can I quiet myself to reflect the nature of God to the degree that, even when I am disturbed, His reflection remains?

And when it all settles, and the ripples are formed, am I calm enough to maintain His image? Can the color of His majesty be seen in and through something which upsets me?

Because that is my goal. But if I am honest, right now my disturbances risk the ruin of any, and all, Godly reflection I may have achieved beforehand. When something unexpected splashes down on me, it can change my demeanor. God and I are working on it.

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

Proverbs 27:19

Thank you, God, for your unusual Show and Tell. What a spectacular picture of reflection! I want to resemble the water in this photograph – calm to the the depths of me. I want to reflect your majesty, from my surface through the core of my being. And when sudden disturbances come, Lord, my desire is to have such peace that even the splashes are ricocheted in peaceful worship back to you.

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”

Psalm 29:11

“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

Psalm 119:165

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

Romans 8:6

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”

Galatians 5:22a

You may be familiar with the first verse of the Serenity Prayer. Did you know there was more? Here is the extended version.

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.


Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen.
 
~Reinhold Neibuhr     

God’s unusual Show and Tell made a spectacular splash on my soul. It sent my mind spinning towards stillness. Are there disturbances threatening your peace right now? My precious friend, God can sustain you, and will if you let Him!