I’m not much of a naturalist. I love the outdoors, though, and it is often there I hear from God – in the orange hues of a sunset, the greens of a lush forest, even in the chirping of the birds.
But a naturalist? No. This sad fact was recently drilled home while visiting friends in northern California. During a forest hike, one member of our small group, would stop and tell us, “That’s a ground iris.” Or a little further down the path, “That’s a yellow monkeyflower.” She even pointed out nice green moss. Seriously, that was its name: nice green moss. Why nice is in its name, I’ll never fathom.
When she heard a bird, she could distinguish its call from that of another variety. While my ears would never become that attuned, hearing the birds’ song comforted me. The Bible mentions birds many times, but the verses that bring joy to my heart are: Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:25-26
I kept my thoughts quiet while the gentle and imposing stature of the forest convicted me and humbled me, as I crunched atop its brush and beneath its canopy. God whispered to me while she named more calls from above, “How much more do I care for you if I care for the birds?” I felt God’s overwhelming attention to nature – the wide variety of species, the magnificent colors, the whimsical calls from the winged creatures on top of the forest floor. If he cares for the tiniest of creatures, I don’t need to worry. He knows my needs.
I don’t rely on this truth enough, since food, garments and shelter are readily available where I live. Yet, we give up so much in our rush to have them, that sometimes we forget the Provider of all our needs.
Something holy happened for me during that walk. The psalmist speaks of the heavens declaring God’s glory, and I wanted to shout out my thanks to God. I dared not to prevent my hiking group from wondering if I had temporarily lost grip on reality. The walk and the friend who pointed out nature’s diversity taught me something about dependence and prayer. By seeing the variety of God’s handiwork, it was as if the forest itself had sung its praises to God. Walking through that wilderness was, for me, like walking into the hushed reverence of a cathedral.
God was there in that forest. And his eye was on the sparrow…a little sparrow named Myra.
Dear Heavenly Father, we proclaim you as our Provider. Worry, striving and fretting are not from you, but because you care for us. Please give us the strength to trust you with all that concerns us and weighs heavily on our hearts. When anxiety becomes overwhelming, give us the peace of Christ that transcends our human understanding. Thank you for keeping your eye on us. In Jesus Name, Amen!