LOOK AT THE BIRDS AND CONSIDER THE LILIES

LOOK AT THE BIRDS AND CONSIDER THE LILIES

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.” Psalm 19:1-2

I used to tell my students that no matter what course of study they were pursuing, they could always find inspiration and see relevance from the world around them. After all, it is from the phenomena of the world that academia derives its theories and content; and every so often, when we looked into the sky, or at the neighborhood around us, we would be able to see knowledge come alive. Of course, Geographers do have it easy because geographical phenomena are obvious and direct. But I have come to realize through my wife, the mathematician, that the numbers and rules that I could never get my head around, are all around us, everywhere we look. If only I had that revelation as a child.

But you know what, beloved? Our Father’s love, His strength, His mercy, are also on constant display all around us. He has given us many signs, showing us just how much He loves us and wants to care for us; and we will do well to notice these signs, for when we do, we will be filled with not only awe, but a sense of just how loved we are and how much our Father is for us and not against us. So let us stop and smell the flowers today and see just how much our Father loves us.

Did you know that the Earth is perfectly placed? It is. Google it. We are just the right distance away from the sun. Any closer and we’d burn, any further and we’d freeze. Unlike other planets, the earth is heated both from within and without. This means that the distribution of heat is even and the surface of the earth gets the optimum amount of heat and the most even circulation. The earth is also efficient because whatever heat it gets is retained by the atmospheric gases to produce what is known as the Greenhouse Effect. Now, I know that the Greenhouse Effect has had a bad reputation of late because we have made it reach the point where there is just too much heat being trapped. But if the Greenhouse Effect did not exist at all, if the earth had no means of trapping heat on the surface, global temperatures would be 80 degrees Celsius colder across the board.

And you know what, beloved? Even though it would be good enough if our Father just made a perfect world and left it in our care, He still tends to it, makes small tweaks to it, so that it can accommodate us wrecking it. Think, when we burned the hole in the Ozone layer, what ensured that we did not all die of skin cancer? Yes, clouds. Clouds are God’s curtains to ensure that not too much heat and light comes in. And because clouds are mobile, the can be ‘drawn closed’ and ‘drawn open’ as is necessary. And clouds are also the means of purifying our water source, so they serve a dual function. Talk about efficiency. Winds and ocean currents are yet other wonderful phenomena because they take heat from the equatorial zones and distribute them to the temperate and polar regions, ensuring that some of us don’t freeze, while others fry. Are you in awe yet?

“They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:3-4

Though they be majestic, though our very existence is dependent on the systems that our Father put in place; they are not proud, they don’t toot their own horns the way these people do.

“…they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’” Matthew 23:3-7

No, the systems go about their business without pomp or pageantry, making sure that our world remains so efficiently run, so comfortable and habitable, that we forget that they are there, we take them for granted; just like how we take our Father for granted sometimes, and miss out on the fact that He is always there, watching over us. It is like how we are at home. We don’t notice that our beds get made, our meals get cooked, our laundry gets cleaned, there’s always food on the table. We take for granted that our parents will provide, the shopping will get done, even if we are too lazy to go with them and help. But when something runs out, we get upset with our parents; thinking that now, we need to break our piggy bank to go buy that packet of chips; not trusting that just like they have always been, they will always provide again. No wonder Jesus had to remind us,

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29

“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” Matthew 10:29-31 [MSG]

It is sad. But we really do miss the fact that we are loved and greatly cherished sometimes; especially when the cares of the world overwhelm our senses. And that is precisely when we need to stop, look at the birds and consider the lilies; and remind ourselves just how loved we are so that we can rest in the assurance of our Father’s protection and provision.

“The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 19:7-8

Take a look at the Ten Commandments again. But this time, look at it from the perspective of it keeping social order.

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” Exodus 20:3-5

Why should we do this? Simple. Who else do you want your children to depend on, to acknowledge, to credit, to love for all the good that you have given them? Who else would give them the same care as you would? No one, right? So it is right that our Father tell us this. Because firstly, there is no other god except Him, and secondly, He made us, He provided for us, He is our Father; the responsibility of our care is on His shoulders. How foolish will we be if we looked to anyone else to care for us? For remember, our Father did say,

“For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:5-6

If you hate someone, will you love his children? If someone hates your children, will you think that they love you? So when our Father says He visits wrath on those who hate Him, He is actually telling us just how much He is there to protect us, the ones whom He loves.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” Exodus 20:8-10

Now, how can we mistake this instruction as anything other than our Father wanting us to take a break? In many cultures, rest is seen as a sign of weakness. But in our Father’s economy, rest is what our Father wants us to have, for remember Jesus said,

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

And our Father is also saying, when you rest, make sure your hired help rest too. So that all shall be happy in your household and there will be peace; makes sense?

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:12-17

These are there so that there will be social order; and more importantly, so that we are constantly reminded that we do not need to look to anyone else to get what we want, be it through upright or ill-gotten means. We just need to look to our Father and He will supply.

Beloved, Jesus said,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11

Our Father loves us. This is a fact. We can therefore rest in that assurance and know that whatever befalls us, He is in control. He will meet your every need, tend to your every care and protect you from anything that would assail you. So let us never forget just what a loving Father we have, to whom the access is always open, who never tires of hearing you call out to Him and ask of Him; and let us rest in His love.

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