Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seeds in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so…And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.—Genesis 1:11, 20, 21
I am so glad it is spring.
After this past year, it feels like we could use a little spring. It feels like last spring didn’t count, like we missed it, and it’s been at least a couple of years since the earth reminded us that there is life and hope and abundance and newness. I know it’s silly, because the joy and peace and Jesus gives are available to us any time of the year, but I also know that God created the seasons, and they teach us something about life, and about Him. I know that for some reason, each morning this week when I pull out of my driveway and the trees that line our street and frame the mountains to the south are green with life, it feels like it is doing something for my soul. I don’t know why a little change of color would do that, but then again God created colors, and if they didn’t matter, He wouldn’t have bothered.
A couple of weeks ago we were getting our kids ready for bed and heard a strange noise outside. It sounded like the honking of geese, but it just kept going on and on, and eventually we got curious enough to investigate. We stepped out into our front yard and it got louder. Then we saw that up in the sky, silhouetted against the stars, were thousands of snow geese migrating north over our town. You wouldn’t think you would be able to see geese in the night sky, but they were low enough that the city lights were reflecting off their white bellies, and so there they were, endless zigzagging lines of geese over our heads, with the stars in the background, passing over us on their way to wherever God sends them at this time of year.
We stood there in awe, our feet getting cold on the sidewalk, and every time we thought we had seen the last of them, more would come into view. “Look, there’s more!” we would say to each other, “Another group over there!” It went on for several minutes, and for some reason it was absolutely fascinating, and inspired all sorts of questions I didn’t know the answers to: Why are they doing this at night? Where are they going, and how do they know the way, and how do they know this is the right time?
Snow geese are something else that God must have thought were important, or he wouldn’t have bothered making them. The same is true of the glossy ibis and sandhill cranes that appear in the soggy fields all over our valley at this time of year. God created them, and they have a purpose, and part of that purpose is to teach us that life is good and beautiful, that our God is wise and creative, and that just when you think death has had the last word, life comes around again. Snorkeling in Hawaii recently, I was blown away by the beauty and variety of the creatures God took the time to make and fill the ocean with. And then my head really began to spin when I thought about the fact that many of them were filling the ocean thousands of years before people would even have the ability to know about them. Does this mean God created plants and animals for Himself, and enjoys them for Himself, whether we ever appreciate them or not? And does this mean that when we enjoy them, we are getting a taste of God’s joy?
I know that COVID-19, and politics, and now more recently the news about the closure of California Correctional Center, have made for a really tough year. And I’m not saying the answer is as simple as going outside and appreciating the blooming flowers and the chirping birds. But I am saying that we should probably all go outside and appreciate the blooming flowers and the chirping birds. The God who is intimately involved in your life, in the details of your finances and your employment and your health and all the rest, is the same God who tilted the earth on its axis so that every year my neighbor’s tree would turn pink and the sandhill cranes would pick their way through the fields off of Skyline road, making that crazy dinosaur noise they make. He holds it all in His hands. If He can figure out how to make plants produce food from water and sunshine and dirt, He can provide for you and your family. If He can guide the snow geese home in the dark, He can do the same for you.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”—Matthew 10:29-31
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”—Matthew 6:26-30