Mar 2 2014


_DSC1397As I write these words western Kentucky is getting showered by ice.  My car is covered with ice, as are the trees in my yard.  None of this is a surprise since this winter storm has been predicted for a number of days.  Up to three-quarters of an inch of ice is expected and then several inches of snow.  I do not mind driving on snow but ice is a different matter.  It can be extremely dangerous to navigate in a car.  It is also something quite treacherous to walk on.  This morning I had to be very careful with my footing.  A few weeks ago I fell on the ice and I did not want to repeat that adventure.  I’m hoping that tomorrow I will be able to photograph the ice.  Ice covered plants and trees can be extremely beautiful.  If I do get out with my camera I will be extra careful.  The key to dealing with ice is to respect it.  If you do not you are likely to pay dire consequences.

_DSC1429That reminds me of something else.  I happen to be reading through the Bible again this year and am covering now the opening chapters of  Deuteronomy. In this section Moses is speaking to the children of Israel who are about to cross into the Promised Land.  He tells them, “Know therefore today, and take it to heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other. So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” (4:39-40)

But Moses did not just urge the Israelites to respect God and His commandments that day, he also warned them of the consequences that would come if they did not remain faithful.  Their lack of respect and obedience would cause God to withhold His blessings.  They would stand in danger of losing the land they had just come to possess.  Moses told them “you shall surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it.  You shall not live long on it, but shall be utterly destroyed.” (4:26)  The Israelites were specifically warned not to take on any of the gods they encountered in the land before them.  Moses reminded them that God is a jealous God and would not tolerate any rivals.  After all He had done to deliver them from slavery and bring them to the very verge of the Promised Land God deserved their utmost respect and loyalty.  If they did not give Him this they would certainly pay.

_DSC1250I know this kind of talk makes some people uncomfortable but there is definitely a lesson here we need to be reminded of.  God, as Maker of heaven and earth, and the One who sent His Son to save the world, truly does deserve our utmost respect and loyalty.  When we consider all God has done for us we can come to no other conclusion.  He gives us the freedom, however, to do as we please.  We don’t have to be faithful; we don’t have to show Him our respect.  But when we don’t we too suffer the consequences.  I don’t believe it’s so much that God directly punishes us as it is we reap what we sow.  We pay the price that comes from following false gods (and there are plenty of them out there) and ignoring the paths God has graciously laid out for us for our own good and that of others (not to mention Creation itself).

Just as it would be foolish for me to go out in the ice and pay it no regard or respect, we are incredibly foolish not to give God the respect He is due come sunshine or rain, hail, sleet, or snow.


(The pictures shown here are some I took nearby after another ice storm hit the area last month.)

Aug 29 2012

Giving Nature a Second Look

Today I want to share with you some thoughts from two writers separated by many centuries.  Ken Gire is a contemporary writer that I greatly admire.  His book, Windows of the Soul, is one of my all-time favorites. In this book he explores the many different ways God speaks to us today and he identifies these avenues as “windows of the soul.”  In the opening chapter of this book he writes: “We must learn to look with more than just our eyes and listen with more than just our ears, for the sounds are sometimes faint and the sights sometimes far away.  We must be aware, at all times and in all places, because windows are everywhere, and at any time we may find one.  Or one may find us.”

Gire goes on to explain that “windows of the soul is a way of seeing that begins with respect.”  To this he adds, “The way we show respect is to give it a second look, a look not of the eyes but of the heart.  But so often we don’t give something a second look because we don’t think there is anything there to see.  To respect something is to understand that there is something there to see, that it is not all surface, that something lies beneath the surface, something that has the power to change the way we think or feel, something that may prove so profound a revelation as to change not only how we look at our lives but how we live them.”

Gire’s words deserve our attention.  He’s right; there truly are many “windows of the soul” available to us and we must make sure that we take advantage of them.  One of the windows he discusses at the end of his book is nature.  He realizes, like many who have gone before him, that Creation itself is a window of the soul.

Writing over eight hundred years before Gire, Bonaventure noted how important it is that we pay close attention to nature.  He said, “All the creatures of this tangible world lead the soul of the wise and contemplative person to the eternal God, since they are his shadows, echoes and pictures…  They are set before us for the sake of our knowing God, and are divinely given signs.  For every creature is by its very nature a kind of portrayal and likeness of that eternal Wisdom.”

Like Ken Gire, Bonaventure recognized that when people look at the things around them they do not always see all that is there to be seen.  For him it is “the wise and contemplative person” who is able to discern God’s Presence in Creation.  How does one become such a person?  By practicing the respect Gire writes about, by giving Creation a second look realizing that in it we do, indeed, find a window of the soul that reveals to us our God and Savior.  I truly believe that when we give nature a second look we actually do find “something that has the power to change the way we think or feel” and something that will alter “not only how we look at our lives but how we live them.”  With that in mind, wouldn’t you agree that nature does, in fact, deserve a second look?


(I photographed the marmot at Olympic National Park, the black snake in my yard, and the elk doe at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky.)