March 24, 2017 • Life for Leaders
You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.
I expect you know that, in recent years, California was in a horrendous drought. Throughout the state, lakes and rivers dried up. Trees died. Yards turned brown. Flowers stopped blooming. Portions of the state confronted the likelihood of running out of water completely.
Then came the “atmospheric river” of 2017. In January and February, a “river” in the atmosphere brought storm after storm to California. Lakes were filled to overflowing. The Sierra snowpack, a crucial source of year-round water for the state, was much deeper than average. The hills of the state are covered with bright green grass and millions of wildflowers. Today, while driving on a Southern California freeway, I saw Lupine so thick I was reminded of Bluebonnets in Texas. (I wasn’t able to stop on the freeway for a photo, so I’ll include a picture of Bluebonnets I took along a Texas highway.)
Psalm 65 is a great psalm for Californians in this season of ample rainfall. It celebrates God’s blessings, including God’s watering the land, filling streams with water, and drenching the furrows (65:9-10). Just like California these days, “The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness” (65:12).
To be sure, the earth is not always this glorious. Yet, even though we live in a world that is marred by sin, even though creation now “groans” with longing for the new creation still to come (Rom. 8:22), still the goodness and beauty of God’s perfect creation shines through at times. In the lavish wildflowers of a mountain meadow or in the cool breeze of an early autumn evening or in the pounding waves of an isolated beach, we glimpse God’s grandeur, his artistic vision.
Those who worship nature rightly delight in the glory of the world, but wrongly worship the creation rather than the Creator. The natural world is indeed glorious and worthy of praise. Yet it is meant to point us to the one whose glory immeasurably exceeds that of this world, the creator who is worthy of endless praise.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When have you been impressed, even overwhelmed by the beauty of nature?
What aspects of the natural world lift your heart to praise God? Why?
Gracious God, you are the Creator of all things. This world in all of its majesty and beauty is your work of art. And though our sin has disfigured your masterpiece, even so the grandeur of your creation shines through. It reminds us of who you are and calls us to worship you.
Thank you, dear Lord, for the gift of creation. Thank you for making us so that, like yourself, we might perceive and delight in beauty. Thank you for the lush pastures of the wilderness and the hillsides that blossom with joy.
All praise be to you, God our Creator, for the world you have made. How we look forward to seeing this world when it is fully renewed in the age to come! But, in the meanwhile, may we enjoy the goodness of creation, and may it turn our hearts to you. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: The Wonders of Nature and the Wonders of God
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.