Preaching the Book of Creation

It had been a rough night in the little cave I’d slept in.  The ground was bumpy and angled at a slope.  Last night the allure of sleeping in a rocky mountain cave seemed worth the inconvenience.  But, I didn’t anticipate the hours would be filled with sleepy visions of a lost bear stumbling upon my borrowed patch of earth.  I don’t think I’ll ever sleep in a cave again.

It was a Sunday morning and all around the world countless faithful sheep were stumbling into sanctuaries, with worn hope and the fresh wounds of the week’s chaos.  I thought of them as I knelt beside my little fire and brewed the morning coffee.

It was just before dawn; all the forest creatures knew it.  Some softly scurried about their morning activities trying not to disturb the quite hush of the approaching sunrise.  Others lay waiting in anticipation.

The chorus always begins with that impatient bird that can no longer contain its enthusiasm and ignites the morning chirping.  Little by little the whole choir of birds join in, welcoming a new day with harmonious procession, declaring with all the beauty they can muster from their tiny breath that the world is bathed in the joy and love of God.

All around me God’s great book of creation was being preached.

I gently listened to the poetic growl of a distant river that flowed all day and night, never taking a holiday off.  It echoed God’s faithfulness.

I watched the trees dance in the breeze and I thought of the how important it is to be flexible if I’m to follow the ebbs and flows of the spirit.

I watched a spider race towards a recent catch in his web and I thought of the oppression and devastation that marks so many peoples daily lives.

I watched a newly sprouted flower and was reminded that beauty is everywhere if only I take the time to find it.

I listened for the rocks to cry out in praise; I didn’t hear anything.  But I remembered the importance of being steadfast and solid in my gratitude; that my quality of life often hinges on being thankful for today’s breath and the people, things and insights that I have and don’t have.

The scurrying butterfly reminded me of the resilience, uniqueness and creativity of others.

And as a hawk submitted to the wind and majestically soared, I remembered the freedom I feel when we let go of trying to have my own way.

I studied the plants, grass and trees scattered about in a chaotic fashion and remembered that in the chaos of life, God remains in the business of making beautiful landscapes out of our messes.

And as my Sunday service concluded, I breathed the morning air, a symbol that every day is a new chance to begin again.

Nathan Foster:
Nathan Foster is assistant professor of social work at Spring Arbor University (Spring Arbor, Michigan). He has been a counselor and founded/directed Door of Hope Counseling (Arvada, Colorado). He is married and has two children. He is an avid cyclist and still dreams of mountain adventures. His most recent book is Wisdom Chaser: Finding My Father at 14,000 Feet.
    • It’s funny how we are always trying to sanitize our idealistic visions. Sleeping in a cave sounds so neat and tidy. But it isn’t comfortable and you don’t sleep well.

      Christian community and church is something we expect to be all neat and tidy. But often, it isn’t comfortable.

      But you can still sign me up to sleep in caves and go to church. The inconvenience of the real world is something I don’t really care to sanitize.

    • You noted that in the midst of the chaos of our lives God transforms our messes into beautiful landscapes.
      In reading this I was taken back to a morning I hope to never forget. On this particular morning I was relaxing after having climbed Soldier’s Mountain with some very close friends, where, upon reaching the summit, we marveled at the faithfulness of God as we watched the sun rise above the tree tops beneath us. I spent the later part of my morning with a dear friend and mentor of mine, relaxing on a large veranda overlooking Pikes Peak. Together we were pondering life’s difficulties when he said “life is like a mosaic” and explained it by saying there are certainly times in our lives that are clouded and dirtied by hardship and sin, but when we step back to see that aspect of our life in relation to the rest of our lives and the rest of the world we see something bigger, something better, that we see the beauty of God’s presence in our lives, and we see our place in His world. When looking at a smaller picture of a mosaic we might see images of injustices, death, or snakes but if we take a step back it can be noticed that all of those crummy little pictures make up something beautiful such as a monarch butterfly, or a beautiful landscape.
      Thanks be to God for reminding me to sometimes take a step back – forcing me to recognize the beautiful landscape He has already made my messes into!

    • Bradley Michael

      You said just what I needed to hear when you wrote: “my quality of life often hinges on being thankful for today’s breath and the people, things, and insights that I have” but I wonder Nathan, if you might explain your idea of being thankful for what you do not have? You continued to say “…that I have and don’t have.” What do you not have that you are thankful for, and how can you be thankful for something you do not have?