Monday, May 14, 2012

Wild God

I like to hear God in nature. Today, I came outside to have some quiet time in my own back yard. After 6 years of work, it's starting to become somewhere that looks kind of nice. Birds sing in the shade tree as cars without mufflers drive outside the fence. The grass in the yard more or less stops at its borders now. The rock ledge I built holds back the dirt I shoveled, the compost I made, and the peat moss I trucked in. It makes a nice bed for the raspberries, which are pushing their borders. The herbs look nice and have already been supplying some freshness in my kitchen. The chives are in bloom right beside the well-placed peonies. There's an empty space waiting for more fruit bushes. It looks like I'll need to do some weeding there, first. I hope to put a prayer garden in the back corner in the next couple of years. Maybe I'll even get a dogwood to grow back there. So far, I just haven't been able to get it to happen.

And then I get disgusted with myself. I came out here to hear from God, but here I am, looking at all the cool stuff I've done and thinking about all the work ahead that justifies my existence. I, mine, me. (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!) My yard is creation thoroughly subdued. Even the animals are (somewhat) under my control. I need to get out of here sometimes.

God is not tame. He doesn't conform to my idea of order. God is wild. And violent. And beautiful. In the wild mountains, I impose no quaint rock wall, suggesting that plants may grow up to it but no farther. They are God's work and He didn't ask my opinion when He made them. The wind blows the trees and it causes a ruckus. The animals there are not tame. They eat each other! God allows for much more violence than I'm comfortable with; this is true in the mountains and everywhere. But there is a difference in the mountains: I can see how it is all part of something overarching and particularly beautiful. I cannot always see that in my own back yard. It's too small to make sense. In the mountains, I see a complete work of Someone else, whose plan I cannot fathom. They provide a more accurate scale of my size in the universe, even if it's only slightly more accurate. They could swallow me whole. If the rocks cry out, I'm in trouble. If I meet a bear, well, let's hope I don't. God didn't put railings on the cliffs. It's beautiful and dangerous out there.

At the same time, God feels so near there. He doesn't need me, but He invites me in, anyway. He shows me His vast inner room, filled with some of His most prized works of art. I like to sing that old hymn sometimes about walking with God in the garden, but it's not really talking together about my small accomplishments that I long for. I long to see His face -- to see His image, His workmanship, His splendor. I long to be reminded that I need not talk so much, but only to listen and watch and break out in song or stunned silence. I didn't even know to ask for such beauty as I behold there. I couldn't have planned it. But God has heard me before I've opened my mouth. Even the pyramids in all their splendor aren't so well-adorned.

The wild mountains give me perspective. They remind me that the world is not up to me. They tell me it's not all about the work of my hands, but a wild God who loves me, who works everything out for His glory, and who wants to invite me in. Praise be to God!