“The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks, and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of earth. We learned to do what only the student of nature ever learns, and that was to feel beauty. We never railed at the storms, the furious winds, and the biting frosts and snows…bright days and dark days were both expressions of the Great Mystery, and the Indian reveled in being close to the Great Holiness.”-Chief Luther Standing Bear, The Wisdom of the Native Americans, pg16.
Ever since moving to Colorado, I have taken a greater interest in nature and gained a much deeper appreciation for the “natural world.” Being located so close to the beauty, majesty and allure of the mountains has certainly played a role. However, personality also is a factor, because by “nature” I am an introvert who loves solitude, silence, and being away from the hustle and bustle of life, people and drama. I love to read, think and slow down enough to ponder bigger mysteries, draw more intentionally to God, and reflect on life.
I have also been more deeply discovering that God has built into the “natural” world so many life lessons that also point us to him and reveal aspects of his nature and character. Not everyone may study Scripture to receive specific revelation of the person of Jesus Christ, but everyone has access to nature, it’s general revelation of God and way he designed life to function, whether they acknowledge or accept this or not. God has much to teach us through his created creation!
Recently, I found a book titled “The Lost of Reading Nature’s Signs.” While not intended to correlate specifically with “biblical truth” there was nonetheless some fascinating spiritual insight and life lessons I wanted to write about in this blog article, that I hope you enjoy and will find edifying!
Lesson 1: Storms have a constructive, not merely destructive, purpose!
“Storms are part of the natural cycle and for many species a necessary expunging process. After a big storm, trees with light, nimble airborne seeds, like birches, will spread to areas that were previously denied to them by shade.”(pg56).
We tend to fear and dread storms both literally, and metaphorically speaking. We know the damage and destruction storms can wreck or leave in their wake. However, I never thought of the “constructive” purpose storms have in serving as a “necessary expunging process for many species.”In other words, storms spread seed to places they otherwise would not go!
Taking this spiritually, it’s not too hard to see it’s application in our lives or the history of the early church. What was it that sparked the early believers in Jerusalem “spreading” out beyond their home turf? It was the “storm of persecution” that “carried the seed of the Gospel” and propelled them to take the Good News to the ends of the earth! (See the book of Acts).
Storms in our personal lives have a similar effect. As I write this, I think of two ministry friends. One is a woman from New Jersey named Jennifer Sands, whose husband was killed in the 9/11 World-Trade Center terrorist attacks. The other is Chad Barrett, a church planter, adventurer, and inspirational speaker/author whose young daughter died of cancer. For both Jennifer and Chad, those terrible storms in their lives resulted in more than just destruction. It has propelled them to “spreading” the seed of the hope of Jesus Christ in further places and to more people than they could have imagined!
Storms are going to come and wreck destruction in our lives. However, they also serve a redemptive purpose and lead to new life springing forth wherever storms may cause us to “spread” out. Out of the ashes, God brings forth new life and beauty (Isaiah 61:1-4).
Lesson 2: Being “sharp” verse being “gracious” can be a sign of whether further healing is needed or has occurred properly.
“…it is not unusual to spot a…twisted “rib” – that is, a hard thin protuberance that works it’s way up and around a tree. This is a symptom of an internal fracture caused by excess stress on the tree. If the rib is smooth and rounded, it means the tree has managed to heal successfully, if it is sharp then it means the fracture has not healed and the tree has not overcome the problem and is possibly vulnerable.” (Pg62).
This is quite fascinating and hit home quite personally for me. We all have been, and will be, wounded in life. We all suffer “internal fractures” of the heart and soul. Those wounds or fractures can happen in a million different ways, but if they do not heal properly, we do become vulnerable.
The fact that you can determine whether a tree has healed properly or not by noting whether the protuberance is “smooth and rounded” verse “sharp” is reveling when it comes to discerning whether we, or others, are in need of further healing. Based off this information, I know I had to acknowledge I clearly have some “internal fractures” in my life that have not healed properly yet. I have a lot of “sharp” edges…
The good news is Jesus is Healer and Sanctifier!
Scripture again and again speaks to the fact that he “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”(Psalm 147:3). But we must, in vulnerable humility, turn to him and ask him to do this work in us, O LORD, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!(Jeremiah 17:14).
Lesson 3: True beauty, attractiveness, sweetness, fruit, healthiness, life, growth, etc, is dependent on us orienting ourselves to the “son.”
“…the orientation of flowers is no more random than the places we find them. Flowers have a job to do and it is a visual one. They need to be attractive…to bees and other airborne insects that will distribute their pollen for them. Light plays an important part in this process and so the closer the flowers face to the sun the more visible they become…if you look more closely at the taller ones, you will spot that many of their stalks have a gentle curve toward the southern sky…it is the light they are orienting themselves toward…”(pg81).
“The sweetness in fruits comes from the sugars, the sugars take a lot of energy to produce and this energy only comes one place: the sun.”(pg82).
This spiritual life lesson is fairly obvious: we become more like Christ, more attractive to others being drawn to him, healthier and more productive spiritually, the more we “orient” ourselves to “The Son.” Just as flowers are dependent on drawing energy from the sun to function as designed, so are we dependent on drawing from “the light of the world.” It is by “gazing” on him that we reflect more of his glory, character and beauty in our own lives (2 Corinthians 3:12-18).
Oh Lord, help us orient and bend our lives more to you! Help us seek, search and stretch towards your light! Help us draw upon you as our source of all life, energy, fruitfulness, and sweetness to attract others to your beauty!