Do you sometimes feel “stuck?” I do.
It can be a concern about which you’ve prayed and prayed but you see no answer. A fear that consumes your thoughts until you want to scream. A decision you don’t know how to make. It’s so easy to get “stuck in our stuff.” Our small world collapses inward, and we feel like we’re in a dark cave, paralyzed.
But God calls us to something bigger, something incredibly beautiful.
Through nature He reminds us of His bigness. He wants to enlarge our view of His ways. In creating us with the gift of imagination He has provided a vehicle for us to step out of our “stuckness” into a new vision of His vastness, power, and beauty.
Jeremiah 33:3 has been a pivotal verse in my life. “Call unto me and I will show you great and mighty things that you do not know.”
I have learned that if I’m stuck about something I simply need to shift my focus and ask God to show me something new, something unrelated to the current issue. As I’ve opened myself to Him in a fresh way He’s convicted me of sin, given me new visions, clarified wrong assumptions, and clothed me with a new hope.
Spending time out in the natural world can lift us out of our “stuckness” and give us new insights about our Father God. One of the ways He speaks to us through his creation is in the use of metaphors.
Here are four recent examples of metaphors I’ve noticed in His creation:
1.It was a quiet morning. Nothing seemed to move. All was still. As I looked at the weeping cherry tree outside my window, I could not see any hint of wind. But then I noticed one small leaf slightly moving. It was a reminder to me of the fact that just because I can’t see God’s hand at work does not mean that He’s not working. He’s always working. He is working while we are waiting, in our life, our child’s life, a friend’s life. A tiny moving leaf, a metaphor.
2. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” (Psalm 23:1) At this moment our pasture is lush with green grass, soft grass, the type of grass that makes you want to curl up in it, smell its sweetness, and feel its embrace. I imagine this to be like the comfort of curling up in the Savior’s arms as He refreshes my soul. Thick, soft grass becomes a metaphor to me of his loving arms.
3. It’s easy to get frustrated with my own lack of maturity and that of others. I should be able to trust you by now! My child should know “this” by now. I want to get “there” and I want my kids and grandkids to get “there” as well. But we’ll never get “there” this side of heaven. We will always be growing, never finished. And there will be different phases of growth. Interestingly, my pink knockout rose bush helps me with this frustration
Its buds are in different stages of growth-some not yet open, others at full bloom. There is beauty in this variety. If these buds were all the same, the process of beauty would be lost. This bush reminds me that God is a God of process. As humans we can worship the product, the end. Yet God loves the process. He is the designer. And He is not in a hurry. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)
4. John and I were sitting in the quiet on our patio as the sun began to set. In the stillness we became aware of the abundance of birds calling to one another. John turned on his new bird calling app which tells you the names of each distinct bird calling as well as shows you a photo of the bird. Immediately the app identified 7 different birds. To me this was a reminder that God has so much more going on than we are aware of. He is not limited. But in my imagination, I (wrongly) limit Him.
As wonderful as our imagination can be in helping us enlarge our vision of God, we must remember that we are still sinful beings and that we can allow our imagination to be used for evil. Thinking evil thoughts, planning evil, etc. We have to guard against this and ask our Father to control our imaginations. And remember that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights…” James 1:17
Father, please enlarge my imagination. Protect me from vain imaginations. Instead fill me with a greater ability to see you in nature. Help me be still and focus on the seemingly small things your creation can reveal to me how great thou art.
Share with the next generations
When my grandson Cashel was 8 he memorized Psalm 8. Young children have an aptitude for memory work. In preparing for one of our summer hikes my friend Melody and I also memorized this Psalm. Memorizing is harder for us older folks, so I wrote the Psalm out and taped it to my dashboard.
Gather your kids or grands together and read this Psalm. Read it through once and then before reading it a second time tell each child to listen and pick out a verse that is meaningful to them and have them share why. It’s even better if they have their own Bibles to follow along!
Commit to memorizing this Psalm over the next month. Rewards are acceptable!
Explain the meaning of a metaphor. Give your kids some examples. Have everyone sit alone outside and observe God’s creation for about 15 minutes looking for a metaphor. Then have a time of sharing what each has observed. This will be easier for some than others and that’s ok! It’s meant to be fun, not homework!
Sing together, ”How Great Thou Art.”