07/11/2007

The heavens declare

One of the advantages of a period of recovery from sickness is that it gives time to read. I must confess that since pastoring a church became my "job", I have not read enough. This was one of the things that the Lord laid upon my heart while I was ill. When I return to work full-time, that is something I have to follow up. In the meantime, I have extra time on my hands to read.

At the moment I am reading Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George M Marsden. It is a fantastic biography, an inspiration and a challenge, and so I give it a whole-hearted recommendation.

Anyway, today I attended a fraternal of local ministers in the neighbouring district of Herne Hill. Before we started a couple of the brothers were talking about simply enjoying the splendour of God in His creation - particularly at this time of year as the leaves on the trees turn all kinds of glorious colours.

On returning from this meeting (where I was prayed for and do feel quite a lot better!), I picked up Jonathan Edwards: A Life and continued to read. And I read this, a quotation from Edwards himself (in Miscellany no. 108):

"When we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ; when we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see His love and purity. So the green trees and fields, and singing of birds, are the emanations of His infinite joy and benignity; the easiness and naturalness of trees and vines [are] shadows of his infinite beauty and loveliness; the crystal rivers and murmuring streams have the footsteps of His sweet grace and bounty... That beauteous light with which the world is filled in a clear day is a lively shadow of His spotless holiness and happiness, and delight in communicating Himself."

Often we can rush around completely unaware of what is around us. That is particularly easy to do living in a big city like London. It is good to stop, pause and worship. Look around - God made all these things (and yes, there are trees in London). Not only should we be amazed at God's wisdom in these things - but Edwards reminds us that these reflect only a shadow of what God is like in Himself.

He is altogether lovely and delights to communicate Himself - not simply to the mind, but to the heart, to our whole beings. The creation, which declares the glory of God, points us to the Glorious One Himself, who is to be pursued and experienced and enjoyed.

So let us worship God for all He has made, and let us look beyond what He has made to He Himself, who delights to be enjoyed by us.

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