Sunday, September 9, 2018

Ask and ye shall receive

"I go to books and to nature as a bee goes to the flower,
 for a nectar that I can make into my own honey." 
John Burroughs

   Morning. Ten thousands of tiny droplets gush forth from the belly of the sky and splash a thousand upturned leaves and grasses and budding things. The sun breaks through the clouds and the shadows of birds flit across the page of my journal laid open on my lap. The shadows of my own hand and pen dancing with the songbirds of the morning light. Sitting still here on the porch, I listen, and the birds' songs invade my thoughts and penetrate my heart. Such familiar sounds, yet the newness and enchantment of their call never fades. 

     A brazen Blue Jay lands nearby. His eye on me and mine on him. He speaks tersely to me in some dialect of the Blue Jay Tribe. Enough said and off he goes to assault other ears perhaps more keen than mine. The thrill of the close encounter induces a child-like smile across my face.

     Ah! suddenly, piercing the cacophony of Aves' notes there rises in clear tones above the others the beloved song of the Wood Thrush. A flute-like trill characterizes a portion of his blessed song. I close my eyes and praise the God of the song. I move to the other end of the porch as his song draws me closer, but, alas, like a phantom he moves on and I am left alone, yearning, gazing into the woods. 

     Oh, how I long to see this elusive creature of the deeper wood. "Lord, you know how I love the sound of the Wood Thrush and how I long to catch just a glimpse of him. I am content to hear him, yea, overjoyed to hear him, but, oh, how nice it would be to see him as well!" Indeed, I think that perhaps the unfulfilled longing is meant to teach me that my deepest longings can never be fulfilled here on earth.

     Next day. Same porch. With Bible open I am distracted by the scene of a Black-Capped Chickadee chasing and deftly catching a moth in mid-air. I regain control of my attention and return to the pages before me. It feels like rain. It smells like rain. The scent of the Lilacs is heavy and hanging in the dewy air. The pages of my journal have a damp weight to them this morning; even the ink of the pen feels heavier. I thank God for the impending shower and for the little bright green leaves that seem to have popped out overnight.

     Again, my eyes return to the open Book. Without warning, a loud thud to my direct left startles me. I know the sound immediately. I have heard it before but from the inside of our house, never from the outside, and certainly not 3 feet from where I sit. It is the sound of a bird flying into the clear glass of a window. I turn quickly enough to see its limp body fall to the porch floor with a stunned chirp. Amazed, I leap up from my seat and realize immediately that before me lays none other than a Wood Thrush. My hands rush to my face as I gasp and then to my heart. In that moment I felt as if the Lord had said, "You want to see a Wood Thrush? Here you go!" and with divine precision that poor Wood Thrush was hurled into our living room window. 

     Dazed and confused the bird lay on its side, beak open, eyes closed. I was completely in awe. Didn't I ask for this? But, oh, to see it like this? I immediately got down close to him and began to pray. "Oh, thank you, thank you God, for this rare opportunity but please, oh, please don't let him die! I wanted to see him and I thank you but, please let him live!" 

     The bird righted itself on its unbelievably skinny little legs. His beak remained open and his head was tipped all the way back and his eyes remained closed. For the next 15 minutes I stayed near him. I lay flat on my stomach on that porch floor looking at this wonder of song. Such a small creature yet out from it flows such a large song full of depth and beauty. Its cloak of brown feathers with its underbelly of speckled white is quite unremarkable. It belies the depth of beauty found within its breast.

     Eventually, his eyes opened and there we sat staring at one another. Me and a Wood Thrush, face to face, not 2 feet between us. I've enjoyed his song for years on this property but have never seen him. What a wonder, I mentioned it to my God yesterday and He arranged for a meeting today. My heart was filled, simply filled with the beauty and nearness of this creature and with the God who threw him into my window that morning. 

     All at once my winged visitor shook its head, gave one last look, and off he flew. My mouth closed with a sacred sense of awareness and my heart burst wide with gratitude.  "...For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." 

"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
Psalm 37:4

Some people think God's voice booms like the roar of the ocean waves. I think it sounds like a Wood Thrush in the early, dewy morning just out of sight in a wooded glen.

The Wood Thrush

God supplies. You build.

 Doylestown, Penna.

It was several years ago now, but I can still see it all so clearly...

I sit in the small, well-lit studio of the accomplished musician turned voice teacher. Her beautiful piano sings and her voice accompanies it. The ease with which she plays upon the keys is mesmerizing and the way her voice reaches into my spirit and sends it soaring upon the wind, like a colorful kite against the deep blue sky, is simply enchanting.

I listen to my son, whose voice has always mingled words and song, concentrate his powers upon a single, simple melody of, "Give Me Wings." It becomes, to me, a moment suspended in time; an act of worship and adoration of the gracious God I serve. All present fade into the background as I hear only the notes of sweetest tones; all of my powers of attention are now focused on my dear Father. I take a picture with my mind and with my pen. I never want to forget this precious moment and the truth my Father is about to teach me. I hurriedly imprint the following words upon a scrap of paper: "O, Dearest Lord, help me! Give me the strength, the tools I need to build this life of mine into a monument to Your grace."

I realize that God has provided the supplies to build a life and that I must devote myself to the sacred task of making, not just something of my life, but a monument of praise to Him. 

In order to erect anything of sustainability, beauty, or of any value at all, one must set forth with a distinct purpose, create a definite plan of action, and then follow through with diligent effort. The joy of the Lord is to be my strength as I carry out my task. Literally, the gladness of Jehovah will be my place of safety, my refuge and protection.

The fact that God gives us the ability and the free choice to build is remarkable! There is such freedom in the Christian life! God has laid the supplies at our feet and we may make of them whatever we wish. To God be the glory!

Stepping Into Another World

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

     Come along with me as I step into another world. My Dear Father has requested my presence in His Throne room of Grace. Bow your head, your knee, your heart and enter in with me. In the air, as a heavy perfume, hangs love, mercy and grace. Leave your sins at the door, and bring your cares before the King. Out of the world that you see into the world that you believe.

     He has sent the invitation and upon my arrival He inclines His ear unto my feeble speech. How can this be that I am here, that I have gained entrance to One so Dear? Ah yes, it is a mutual acquaintance of ours that has introduced us: Jesus Christ, His beloved Son, my beloved Saviour. Blessed be His Name! I tremble to think that my words, yea, my jagged, unformed thoughts are heard and understood. This knowledge brings me low as I prostrate my being before Him who holds my all in His hand. 

     My journey upon this earth brings me in very close contact to that which my eye cannot see, and yet  my spirit is keenly aware of its presence. In the physical attack of germs my body mounts a clear defense and the war is felt in my body as I ache and fever. In the spiritual attack of the forces of the dark, my spirit feels the oppression of fear, doubt, discouragement and dismay. As the assault gains momentum I reach for that which will protect and defend me: Truth, Righteousness, Love, Faith, Assurance of salvation and the Living Word of God. (Ephesians 6:13-17) The attackers dissipate like a vapor of smoke or a mirage as I move towards them in faith and in full armor. 

     It is so like The Accuser to prop up imaginations and transient feelings in my path and expect me to cower before them. They are, just like he is, confined and constrained by the good hand of God. "Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, 'Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?" (Isaiah 14:15-17) Narrowly our eyes shall squint in amazement and disbelief of the wretched littleness of the evil one and the power that we ourselves gave to his monstrous apparitions and devices. 

     The sweet hour of prayer, this grand invitation to do battle in the realm of that other world and have the effects of our strategic skirmishes propelled into and alter this present reality! If I truly believed that my private communion with God unleashes His host to do battle on my behalf I would run into His presence. To have faith sounds like I have something, literally a noun, a thing; but I rather think faith is a verb. It is seen in our actions.  

     Are you listening? You are being summoned.