A rustle through the trees comes from the breath of God. Crows beacon over the valley and the next hill. Be Still and know that I am God. It almost seems like a trite term until you sit, listen, breathe deeply and recognize the glory of God and His creation. Unfortunately many do not know what sitting still means.
The Rhododendrons take my heart back to the early 70s when I was a young Campus Life staff. My boys, Bean’s boys to be exact, were climbing the hills of Gatlinburg and sliding down the hillside surrounded by Rhododendrons. They laughed and called themselves the Rhododendron Rough Riders. It has now been more than forty years since I sat on that hillside with those good friends. Some have already g one into the presence of the Lord.
I have lived for over sixty years and still miss the grandeur and majesty of the Lord at times. I still find myself seeking comfort from Him rather than willing to suffer with Him. I tend to forget that lost time never returns. Memories float in my heart with great joy and I want to reach out and touch them again. But they melt into the atmosphere like fog over this beautiful valley. Oh how easy it is to walk right by our Lord in our zeal to capture another memorable moment.
The Kingdom of God is within you, says the Lord. Why then do we not turn to God with all our heart? The wind engulfs us at an unexpected moment. You take note that the weather is changing. I hear the crow at a distance and remember that God spoke to the birds and had them bring food to a prophet in the wilderness. Why do I worry that I will have enough to eat, enough to take care of myself when age overtakes my physical body? God misses no detail. Including my needs. Oh my faith is so weak and my heart is so self-absorbed.
We find ourselves in a barren desert spiritually and wonder where is God? Life seems to have little enjoyment but only struggle and pain. God is at work tirelessly for our good. Our eyes can see only the darkness of a blinding light that is His presence. We stumble and walk clumsy around our daily experiences and miss the breath of God covering our every step. Instead we find ourselves irritated by the moving air around us and frustrated that comfort is not our first provision.
I look at all the barren trees around me. God has prepared them for the winter. Nutrition has been drawn into the branches and trunk and the leaves are falling. This bare look is a careful provision of our Lord for the trees. It seems odd that the naked trees are being cared for in such a special way. They will be able to weather the winter storms because nutrition has been stored and prepared for the situations that will naturally come.
I marveled at the beauty in the trees as we drove around the South. Yellow, orange, red, tan, brown and green was plastered all over the hills. Scientists say that the trees show their true colors in the fall. Photosynthesis begins to stop as the sun is less visible each day. The bright green we enjoy in the spring and summer goes away. The new color that becomes visible after the green process ends tells us the type of tree that is growing.
There have been many times when I felt like the Lord stripped my heart and removed all that makes life good just like the trees. I failed to recognize his provision for the difficulties that were coming in my life. I failed to remember that great strength comes from suffering. I only want comfort. It is so easy to miss his presence and provision.
Four decade veteran of youth ministry in churches, Youth For Christ and now is the Founder and Executive Director of Deeper Still Missions. Danny and his wife Cathy spend most of their time mentoring missionaries in Africa, Europe, Central America and North America. Future opportunities include South America and the Asia Pacific area.