Rain

            For several years I had the privilege of living in a place called Smith Mountain Lake.  It was a region with incredible natural beauty that was overwhelmingly present almost everywhere you looked.  In the few years I lived in and around this area I have never grown tired of the breathtaking views of the mountains or the tranquility of driving across Hales Ford Bridge just above the lapping waves of the lake, just to name a few of the natural wonders that regularly captured my attention. 

Bavc-Rain638In all my time there though one of the things that had not caught my attention was rain.  It wasn’t until a recent rainy spell here in Ohio that I saw rain in a whole new light.  I’ve got to be completely honest with you rain has never been much more than a necessary nuisance for me.  I’ve been thankful for it when it comes and breaks a time of drought, but I had never found myself mesmerized by the wonder of rain, until last week that is.  I realize we are in the middle of what could be considered a mild or maybe even a moderate drought right now and the inch and a half or so of rain we got last week was much needed, even though it washed out one of my freshly mulched flower beds, but that was not what changed my attitude about rain.  What completely changed my perspective about rain from a necessary nuisance to one of the great and unsearchable wonders of our Creator God was a verse I read in Scripture from the book of Job in which Job, citing the great, unsearchable and marvelous things God does, puts rain at the top of the list.  Upon realizing that Job had an entirely different outlook on rain than I, I decided to check out some facts about rain to see if Job was just a bunch of hype.  What I found confirmed my need for a change of heart.

Anyone who has ever carried a bucket of water any distance knows that it is heavy.  One gallon of water weighs a little more than eight pounds.  Imagine for a minute if you were a farmer and had to carry all the water to nourish your crops by hand.  To water just one acre of crops with just one inch of water you would have to carry roughly one ton of water, or a little more than 27,000 buckets from the nearest water source to your crops.  That is a serious day’s work that would leave us earnestly considering our desire to plant crops.  A luxury that folks back in Job’s era didn’t enjoy.  If they wanted to eat, they had to plant crops, and if they wanted those crops to grow it had to rain.  It was next to impossible for them to irrigate their crops without the help of rain.  But rain takes this insurmountable task and makes it look simple.  Water, that is heavy mind you, is transported in the sky of all places not by hot air balloons or suspended buckets but by clouds which are really just one ton clusters of evaporated water being gently pushed through the sky by the wind.  These one ton clusters then conveniently drift over our crops and rather than just dumping one ton of water in one place making a huge crater and decimating everything in it’s circumference, tiny droplets of water weighing just enough to fall to the ground without evaporating and small enough to not crush the crops condense around dust particles and drop to the ground providing nourishment for the earth.  And that is just a laymen’s explanation of the process through which rain passes.  I haven’t even touched on the removal of salt from the water during this process which protects the crops, the role of electricity in the process to cause the water particles to gather around the dust, or a myriad of other elements of which I’m sure I’m not even aware. 

So the next time you see a cloud role over your head or the skies open up and grace us with a few inches of the wet stuff, remember that mountains and lakes aren’t the only thing in God’s creation for which we should stand in awe of our Creator God.  And like Job maybe we can proclaim the great, unsearchable and marvelous things God does in our midst as He brings forth the miracle of rain.  I know I will never look at a sprinkle the same.

Sleep

Sleep is a wonderful thing.  Though I have never taken any formal survey, or seen one for that matter, I would have to say that most of us say kudos to sleep.  Who of us doesn’t desire whenever our head finally hits the pillow that we have the kind of night sleep which results in us waking up in the morning feeling rested, refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of a new day?  As a matter of fact, we so long for that kind of sleep on a regular basis that we even have sleep specialists who help us diagnose the reasons why we don’t get the kind of sleep we crave.

            We crave this sleep but, if you’re like me it seems as though with each passing year of life it becomes more and more difficult to not only get the quality of sleep I desire but also the quantity of sleep as well.  The ‘to do’ list just gets longer and longer and the days seem to get shorter and shorter, and one of the things that seems easiest to squeeze out of our lives is just a little bit of sleep. sleep

            And this fact isn’t true for adults only.  While I was living in Columbus, Ohio, a few years ago, there was a study conducted of middle and high school students in the surrounding area and what it revealed was that students were, on average, getting less than six hours of sleep a night.  Now in my experience for the average teenager six hours is considered more of an afternoon nap than a full night sleep.

            The question I have is why?  Why, if sleep is such an important and desired commodity, do we so quickly sacrifice it at the altar of performance, success or busyness?  Could it be that we are reluctant to admit that we are not invincible, that we really are weaker than we let on. 

When you think about it sleep really is a very humbling endeavor.  Everything about it humbles us.  The fact that we need to rejuvenate, that we just can’t continue going and going non-stop until we choose to take a break humbles us.  There is a limit to our ability to keep going and a point at which, whether we want to our not our bodies will force us to sleep.  No matter how strong or powerful we may be our weakness is still revealed by the fact that we need sleep.  Then there is the fact that in sleep we place ourselves in a position of near total vulnerability to our surroundings.  Even the lightest sleeper does not have total awareness of everything going on around them as the slumber.  All this leads us to a healthy reminder that we are needy beings.  We are dependent and we are to some degree weak.

There is only one Being I know who is not in need of sleep.  Scripture tells us that God never sleeps or slumbers.  He is the only Being who doesn’t need the rejuvenation and refreshment that sleep brings to keep going.  God is the divine Energizer bunny, the One who keeps going and going and going and never runs out of steam.  And He is the one who has blessed us with this wonderful gift of sleep.  Not only as a means of rejuvenation and refreshment but also as a reminder that He is God and we are not.  He is in control and we are called to trust Him.  Though we may not be able to complete everything on our ‘to do’ list before out head hits the pillow that doesn’t rustle God’s feathers and therefore it shouldn’t rustle ours either.  Because when we wake up in the morning the sun will still rise, the earth will still turn on its axis and our ‘to do’ list will still be there for us.  Oh and God will still be God worthy of all our trust and dependence.  So every time your head hits the pillow say a prayer of thanks to God that He never sleeps but takes care of the business of holding everything together and seeing that it runs smoothly.

Divine Artist

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of God as the Artist and my life the canvas.  Here is a devotional I wrote for our church that reflects on some of my thoughts and readings I’ve been doing.

I used to like to watch Bob Ross paint on the show “The Joy of Painting.”  As I watched I would often paintswonder if Bob ever raised his voice or lost his temper, and if he did what it would sound like.  But the thing that really fascinated and captivated me was watching a white canvas turned into a work of art.  Every time I watched I would find myself taking a journey with Bob Ross.  I never really knew what the end result was going to look like.  There were times I wondered how in the world he was going to take what looked like a mess to me and turn into something.  Then with one stroke a brown smudge turned into a tree or a boat or something that I never would have imagined, but Bob could see it. 

I came across a quote in a devotional some time ago and I wrote it down because I knew it would be a source of encouragement to me in the future and hopefully an encouragement to others.  It brings out the truth that God is THE master artist, and like Bob Ross, He will take a white canvas and create a work of art.  Those strokes we see as smudges He transforms into something beautiful.  I hope it’s an encouragement to you.

“Looking back you will see that every step was planned.  Leave all to me.  Each stone in the mosaic fits into the perfect pattern, designed by the Master Artist.  It is all so wonderful!  But the colors are of heaven’s hues, so that your eyes could not bear to gaze on the whole, until you are beyond the veil.  So, stone by stone, you see, and trust the pattern to the Designer.”  (God Calling 11/11).

But now, O LORD, you are our Father, we are the clay, and you are our potter, we are all the work of your hand.  Isaiah 64:8 ESV