I feel quite fortunate to live in the midwest, where the four seasons are distinctly defined and wildlife and flora are on constant display. My house is situated on the edge of a small patch of woods that is large enough to accommodate local deer, owls, hawks, raccoons, the occasional possum, a family of groundhogs, and more than enough squirrels, chipmunks, and songbirds of many varieties, all of which I get to observe from the comfort of our back deck.
The more time I spend outdoors, the more I long to be outdoors, and the more I want to know what creatures are gathering in the trees around me. Our little micro-ecosystem is jam packed with dozens of species of plants and animals, living (mostly) in harmony under the canopy of trees. I love this landscape, its constancy and how it’s constantly changing, cycling through seasons of life and death, birth and aging, growing and falling away.
So much of the forest speaks to the same universal cycles God has baked into the entire creation, marrying together the spiritual and natural world. It is good for me to be reminded that the wonder of God’s world and the truth of God’s Word are both mirrors reflecting the image of the One True God. Earth Psalms by Francine Rivers invites us into that same reflection.
Earth Psalms by Francine Rivers
Earth Psalms © (2016) Tyndale Publishers
Earth Psalms: Reflections on How God Speaks through Nature by Francine Rivers is a 52-entry devotional that connects the beauty, wonder, and engineering of the natural world with truths from Scripture. Entries are paired with photographs that capture God’s incredible designs as well as facts about creatures and creation to support Rivers’ reflection.
Along with personal reflections and bible verses, Rivers includes in each entry quotes from theologians and historical figures across the centuries, lyrics from hymns, questions for your own faith meditation and application, an invitation to go deeper in your faith during the week, and a written prayer prompt.
Christians have been turning to the natural world for inspiration and revelation for thousands of years, looking to the creation for signs of the Creator’s fingerprints. Early church fathers suggested that followers of God could learn about the Lord by reading God’s “two books”—the “big book” of nature, which is what God reveals about himself to all of humanity (the things that have been made plain by God since the beginning of time), and the “small book” of the bible, which documents God’s special revelation for humanity.
Through nature, God demonstrates his grand attention to detail, the perfect balance of physics, the symphony of mathematics and beauty, and how everything is held together. Through the bible, God essentially says, “You say I am this way, but truly, this is who I am.”
According to those early church fathers, we need to read both “books” together to know the Lord fully.
“Writers of the Bible taught lessons through all aspects of the natural world, including plants and animals, reptiles and insects,” writes Rivers. “King David used metaphors of sheep and pastures. Solomon wrote proverbs about sparrows and dogs, pigs and vipers, ants, hyraxes, locusts, and lizards. The prophets warned of how God could stop the rain and bring climate change. When Jesus walked the earth, He spoke about wheat and tares, the mustard seed, a pearl, seeds and soil. God is an artist, and the earth and the universe are His canvas.”
Not all of us can step outside of our homes and walk into the natural world. Surrounded instead by concrete, glass, timber, and steel, many of us have to seek out God’s wild and natural places. In our modern world surrounded by manmade things, it is easy to overlook God’s handwriting in nature. We need guides who can illuminate the beauty and wonder of the natural world for us.
Rivers grew up like I did—exploring God’s creation whether they were camping, traveling, and, in my case, wandering through the fields, forests, and creek beds of my family’s farm. Her soul and creation are intricately bound.
“It’s in my DNA, so the idea of writing earth psalms as worship to the Lord sprang from my heart. Once I started, I couldn’t help but praise Him for the diversity and beauty of His handiwork,” Rivers says. “I sought lessons and hidden messages in the myriad animals, plants, reptiles, and insects God has made. Now I have the privilege of sharing with you some of my observations.”
Earth Psalms by Francine Rivers connects God’s Word and God’s World together in a personal and encouraging devotional that will inspire every believer to deeper faith and appreciation of the intersection between the natural and spiritual worlds.