Meiss Lake is a vast wetland in the Butte Valley of northern California. It is just below Dorris on highway 97 which is just over a hill from the Oregon border. I took a day without my camera (which, sadly, now lays broken on my desk) to commune with God and analyze priorities with Him. Even in God's work, especially in God's work, we need these extended times of solitude and submission to make sure He is steering us and not the other way around.
"Come apart and rest awhile," the Savior bids us. There may be no physical rest, for exertion lifts the mind from many a rut, but there is to be much spiritual rest. Our hearts find new life and inspiration as we acquiesce in the presence of Infinite Wisdom. When once this habit is formed of getting away from it all and into the Lord, we long to repeatedly hear and heed the invitation.
Though it was an unusually warm day for late January, the gravel and grass causeways were soft to the foot and wet to the touch. In the midst of the vast marsh, I tramped under a blue broken sky miles from the surrounding mountains. A vast playpen for the water fowl, I thought.
Turning down another grass causeway, flocks and flocks of geese and swans and other ducks honked their presence. Thousands of white and brown birds floated among the reeds and out in the open areas. A dozen tundra swans ran and beat their wings on the water as they gradually lifted off like lumbering airplanes carrying a few too many pieces of luggage. They barely made it over the heads of the main group and apparently spooked them. The wave of take-offs spread from left to right and within two seconds the soft thunder of thousands of pairs of wings filled the air and my ears.
I watched them rise and circle and call excitedly, as if to say, Who called this emergency? After a minute of literally chasing each other's tails, most of the group settled down again. A simple knee-jerk response to a few flying swans had rippled into a riot of take-offs. Hmmm. Not much different from many political protests and violent over-reactions. Crowded people are always on edge. These reptilian reactions happen almost exclusively in cities and are amplified by the media. Good thing birds don't have a QuackTube or DuckBook, otherwise a startling event in Florida's Everglades would trigger catastrophic mass migrations on the west coast!
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Another beautiful day under the wide blue expanse we call, sky! As usual, the air reverberates with the notes, hoots, and quacks of myriad waterfowl. Though burdened by evil, this is still God's place with God's creatures operating at God's pace.
Different language presents itself to my mind and I share it with my grown daughter, who has accompanied me this afternoon. I point west to the Cascades, "While this is not my favorite place, yet this is where I can get in sync with God. I can speed up or slow down here and experience things at His pace. Because He made nature and nature's pace, then this where I can get in sync with God."
"You know," she replied, "I think I just got it for the first time why you have spent so much time in nature the last several years."
That deep satisfying feeling of being understood filled my heart.
The germination of the seed represents the beginning of spiritual life, and the development of the plant is a beautiful figure of Christian growth. As in nature, so in grace; there can be no life without growth. The plant must either grow or die. As its growth is silent and imperceptible, but continuous, so is the development of the Christian life. At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God's purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. As our opportunities multiply, our experience will enlarge, and our knowledge increase. We shall become strong to bear responsibility, and our maturity will be in proportion to our privileges.
The plant grows by receiving that which God has provided to sustain its life. It sends down its roots into the earth. It drinks in the sunshine, the dew, and the rain. It receives the life-giving properties from the air. So the Christian is to grow by co-operating with the divine agencies. Feeling our helplessness, we are to improve all the opportunities granted us to gain a fuller experience. As the plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take deep root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, we are to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. The work is to be done "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zechariah 4:6. If we keep our minds stayed upon Christ, He will come unto us "as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." Hosea 6:3. As the Sun of Righteousness, He will arise upon us "with healing in His wings." Malachi 4:2. We shall "grow as the lily." We shall "revive as the corn, and grow as the vine." Hosea 14:5, 7. By constantly relying upon Christ as our personal Saviour, we shall grow up into Him in all things who is our head. (COL 66)
Even in my fifties I find myself still dealing with the habits and mindset ingrained into my Chicago-raised childhood brain. Yet more and more, the Word turns my mind naturally into the direction of God's will.
(Note: The bald eagles are starting to migrate through Butte Valley, Klamath Refuge, and Tule Lake Refuge. The typical peak season is the last half of February. Up to a 1,000 of them have been spotted here, which makes the highest concentration in North America. Also, up to a million other waterfowl can fill the lakes and marshes here through March. Now is the time to make plans to visit this abundant place! Start your research of the refuges here, and/or email me if you have any questions.)
by Ed Lyons, 2/2/18