Being read while reading (leaves, snow, scripture, grace)

November leaves (Photo: Kirgiss)
November leaves (Photo: Kirgiss)

Side by side is where I found these two November leaves late last night, prone on the pavement, fully dead, yet clinging to something – anything – resembling life, the one by reflecting brilliant colors (as brilliant as night light allows) and the other by bedding down the new-fallen snow, giving it a place to last, to live, to remain for just a few minutes more.

They are the flip side of life and death, one holding out for its own last few breaths, the other holding up another’s first few breaths.

They are poignantly beautiful. They are powerfully sublime. Yes – those two tiny dead leaves made me feel small (a smallness that is divinely reassuring) in the way only nature can. They read my heart and they whispered the words written there: “You are loved, whether exposed to the bitter cold air, whether feebly attempting to cling to one last breath, whether bravely trying to help another hold on just a little longer, whether lying all alone on an endless pavement, whether clinging to another for comfort and companionship and hope, whether looking ahead with hope or looking around with caution, whether courageous or afraid. You are truly loved, by the God who created all that is.”

Sometimes nature does that – reads our souls and reflects the words back to us, reminding us of what is true.

And sometimes nature – being born of the hand of God – gets it right, which is a lovely, moving, and sacred event. But other times nature – being viewed through the eyes of a weak and broken being – gets it wrong. Not intentionally, of course. But wrong, nonetheless.

Being read by nature often makes my spirit leap with something resembling joy.

Being read by the Creator of nature makes my spirit soar – with joy, remorse, adoration, hope, contrition, love.

Trust in the LORD (are you trusting in someone else? in something else?)
with all your heart (how much of your heart is Mine – deeply and truly Mine?).
Don’t depend on your own understanding (the way that you so often do).
Seek his will (not yours, not someone else’s – just Mine)
in all you do (all things, all the time…all…it’s a powerfully big word, ‘all’ is)
and he will show you (are you looking? are you listening? are you watching?)
which path to take (because gracious, child, I know how many paths beckon.)

Being read by truth aches. Soothes. Exposes. Reveals. Comforts. Corrects. Breaks me apart into tiny, jagged pieces. Stitches me back together with loving grace and joy.

Read the true words of God and be filled with them.

Be read by the true words of God and be enlivened by them.

Be still and know that He is God.


Inverted Psalm

Book of Psalms, 1882
Book of Psalms, 1882

Monday morning. Psalm 5.

Sometimes it’s just too early and too soon and too messy to wrestle with all the nuances of David’s lyrics. The Almighty’s intolerance, destruction, and declarations of guilt – are these really the point of this song, or merely reflections of David’s emotional circumstances? Are these things upon which to build a doctrine, or simply the cry of a creative and wounded heart? Are these descriptions that saturate all of the sacred Word, or rather one poet’s attempt to wrap in human language that which is spiritually unknowable?

God’s infinite grace, love, and forgiveness – as demonstrated through creation, incarnation, and resurrection – sweep aside all doubts about His nature.

But still there is this Psalm (and many others) that lie before us – words that must be read, chewed, digested.

On this particular Monday, I find that the verses of Psalm 5 are best considered and consumed when inverted from ancient poetic statements into modernly personal queries. Soul-baring queries. Uncomfortable queries. Convicting queries.

1. Are my prayers intensely honest to the point of groaning?

2. Do I look to God alone for my soul’s help?

3. Do I pray daily with patient expectance?

4. Do I foolishly assume that God overlooks and tolerates my sin?

5. Does my pride keep me from drawing near to God?

6. Am I truthful and honest in all things?

7. Do I enter God’s presence in awe of myself or in awe of him?

8. Do I invite God to lead me on His chosen path?

9. Are my words untruthful, destructive, foul, or falsely flattering?

10. Have I been caught in my own trap of rebellion?

11. Do I love the Lord’s name and take joyful refuge in it?

12. Do I pursue a godly life and rest in His shield of love?

Suddenly Psalm 5 is my Psalm, for these are questions my heart needs to face and my soul needs to answer.

These are questions that bring me to a narrow place of reflection, a focused point of confession, a singular place of desire –

to rely only on God (not the things of this world)

to rely always on God (not just when I am confused and wounded)

to rely wholly on God (not also on myself)

and to rely humbly on God (acknowledging my selfish helplessness and his loving grace).

Welcome to Monday. Welcome to Psalm 5. Welcome to life. Welcome to divine love.

For the chief musician. A Psalm of David.
For the chief musician. A Psalm of David.