16 January 2007

The Notice My World Project

Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan

God is all around us. The evidence is there. We just don’t notice. We’ve learned to ignore them. That is until THOSE moments come ...

One of my favorite Psalms is song nineteen—especially the first section. It takes me back to sailing on Grand Traverse Bay off Old Mission Point . . . a night in the Texas Countryside watching the meteor showers . . . snorkeling off a small Bahamian Cay . . . looking down the 3,000 foot change of elevation at Snowbird Ski Resort from to summit of Hidden Peak . . . hiking through the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma—the list could go on. These are places and moments in which God’s presence and glory was so overwhelmingly clear and incredibly overpowering. They broke through my normal dullness and stunned me into realizing that God is not distant. This is the universal medium through which God makes Himself known, and yet I still typically ignore it.

The songwriter puts it like this,

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their measuring line goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

He goes on to point-out that God’s word (His law or instruction) makes what we know of God specific, with a clear moral content. But nature is not dismissed as irrelevant. The songwriter still notices and finds it beneficial to listen to what nature—the physical world around us—has to say about God. At the end of his song, as he asks that “the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O, Lord” this prayed desire refers back to both God’s word and God’s work. John Piper shares eleven practical steps by his former teacher Clyde Kilby to “stay alive to the beauty of God’s world.” One of these reads, “I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their ‘divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic’ existence.”

I’ve been convicted of this not being true for me. I recognize the impact it has had when I have meditated on it in the past. So, as a spiritual discipline for 2007, I have commenced a project I’m calling “Notice My World.” I will be disciplining myself to see something around me, each day, that in some way points back to God and says something about Him. I’ll be taking a photo and posting these in the photo gallery of the same name in the right column a little way down. I don’t live in the most beautiful or exotic setting. Much of my daily scenery may be “routine.” You may not find them worth looking-at. The public nature of it, however, will hold me accountable.

I simply wish to tease-out what it says about God nonetheless. As I pay attention to the world around me that He has made possible, I pray that I will be more aware of who God is and how he is good to me. Feel free to look when you want to. Maybe it will prompt you to listen to all of His “voices” a little more closely too.

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