At breakfast, Linda, my wife, shared the devotion she had used that morning. Our morning routine is to make a cup of coffee and then each of us go to a separate place in the house where we spend time with God. As I reflected on what she shared, I realized how applicable it was for churches and for the situation in our country today. The devotion talked about forests and sparked the idea for this offering.
When you see a forest, what do you see? Doesn’t it depend on where you stand? If you are high on a mountain, looking out over the wilderness you see a beautiful carpet of green. If you are driving by at 70 miles per hour, the trees blur into one another. You can’t tell a pine tree from a fir – if you’re keeping your eyes on the road! If you’re walking through the forest, you see the forest up close. You can tell a pine tree from a fir tree. You observe the tree that has a few bare, dead branches. You notice a fledgling tree, straining to grow taller into the sun light.
In the forest you also see birds, many birds, and delight in their songs. A butterfly just might flutter by. You may see a deer quickly bolt away when it senses you are getting too close. You probably will see a squirrel scamper up a tree or a rabbit hop into the undergrowth, a gathering of ferns where there was a patch of filtered light that allowed them to grow giving safety to the rabbit.
It is a joy to observe God’s creation at whatever angle you view the forest from. Isn’t our church and our country a bit like the forest. People come in all shapes and sizes. There’s a variety of us with our different languages and skin color. There are those who scamper away when approached. There are those who bolt at the first sign of danger. There are those who are broken. There are those who are striving to grow strong and tall. The Lord God made us all!
As Christians, in our divided society, what is our call? To love all of God’s creation. To love those who are broken, who have scars and imperfections. To listen and observe, to accept those who are different from us. Not easy to do in our world today when you see so much hate. But all the more important to do when there is so much hate and divisiveness. Our call as Christ-followers is to love neighbor as yourself.
I enjoy viewing forests from mountain tops. I especially like hiking through the forest, engaging all my senses as I admire the variety of God’s beautiful creation. Just as I enjoy the forest, I relish the differences in our society. I enjoy the stories of the people I meet. I listen and offer acceptance (that’s my goal, but I don’t always make it).
Perhaps we need signs on our path of life like those in the forest. Stay on the path. Appreciate the beauty and variety. Love God’s creation whether it be forest or folk.