Progressive Patterns

Nature has gone nuts

That was the headline of an interview with a professional weather forecaster. His studied opinion could not have been expressed more succinctly. Two record setting hurricanes hit our country within two weeks of each other, with a third trailing ominously behind. After a record setting winter of snow, the west coast then finds itself ablaze in bone dry conditions. (My backyard, Sky Lakes Wilderness, is right now burning from both ends.) Mexico suffered its strongest earthquake in a century. An article I read last week listed many more recent natural disasters around the world that seemed to have evaded the headlines of our US-centric media. In a phrase, "Nature has gone nuts."

It would seem that nature is something to be avoided, but the purpose and content of this column will not change. It is still good to get out in nature. It is still the best way to commune with God and the best environment in which to study His word. However, current events almost demand comment this week.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Our Creator, our loving Father, our powerful Savior still have much good in this world. The Holy Spirit is not yet withdrawn. Rather than wringing our hands or watching the numbers to predict records or trying to turn specific headlines into specific prophecies, God calls us to Himself so that He may shine His glory and courage into us. Then He can send us out filled with good to help others overcome evil.

Taking an hour, a day, a week, or even a month to focus solely on Jesus is not an escape, a waste, or a bad idea. We are so filled with our conformity to our self-centered routines and our work schedules that when an emergency comes we are spun for a loop as if in a tornado. Sitting with God on the beach, strolling with Jesus through the backyard garden, walking in the Spirit in a park, or backpacking in the footsteps of Christ will make the clear-headed, couragious people that are needed in these troubled times.

Christ's greatest sermon was proclaimed from a mountaintop. He shared His parables on the seaside. He prayed all night in the forest and the garden. He performed miracles on country roads and on the plains. However, most of His city interactions were negative and confrontational. Jesus set a pattern and sent a coded message to today's remnant in the wilderness.

The Savior is calling caring and compassionate men and women and youth to the mount of transfiguration so that He can send us into the valley of despair where we can help those who cry out, "Help my unbelief!"

Our Father fills every open mouth with food

Babies remind us that God gives us new life

Last summer, I was in one of my special spots in a ponderosa grove north of my house. As I was reading, a flicker of movement distracted my attention. Upon investigation, I discovered a tall stump with a family of flickers in it. I spent many hours over the next week watching and photographing the parents cleaning and feeding their five children.

Finally, the time came when the parents no longer came to the nest. They stayed up in the trees and called to their fledglings. Four of them responded and flew up to the branches. The fifth, a boy, just stayed at the hole waiting for food to come. All afternoon and that evening it waited while mommy and daddy called.

I returned the next morning and heard many voices along with the parents. It was a party in the trees! I was sure the last one had flown, but when I checked the nest, it was still down there. That evening, the parents were still calling, but the baby still had not moved. The next day, the parents and children had moved farther out into the woods and the boy was collapsed and weak at the bottom of the nest. That night it was dead.

Sadly, this flicker died because he did not respond to the call to grow

There are times in our lives when God calls us to the next level. He may make that call through a sermon, through a verse, through a providential event in our lives, or even through a trial in someone else's life. It is vital that we hear that call and that we heed that call. That is what it means to follow the Lamb where ever and when ever He goes. That is our joyous, empowering duty and privilege!

There is much evil in nature, but there still remains much good because the Holy Spirit is always the first responder as well as the long term renovator. Where ever there is death, Life springs into action. In a flooded city or by a clear mountain lake, in a hurricane desolated landscape or in a breezey meadow, where ever my Savior is communing with people or ministering to hurt bodies, agonizing souls, and yearning hearts, that is where I want to be.

—Ed Lyons, 9/15/17