(Friends, during our time away, a number of thoughts and experiences occurred that crystalized into messages that I'll send along this week. Thanks, Glen)
During our hike on the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Creeper, we saw millions, no, billions, no, trillions, no zillions of trees. Add foliage and groundcover to the immeasurable vitality, and an abundance of life presented itself to our eyes, ears, touch, mind, and heart.
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
As I considered the overwhelming wonder of such created beauty, I thought of the words of the Apostle Paul: "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead" (Romans 1:20). I realized that the abundance of life in creation speaks of the abundant spiritual life in the Creator. Moreover, I considered the infinite measure of our salvation and subsequent relationship with God as provided through the Lord Jesus Christ. Many New Testament passages that declare such boundless grace redound to the glory of God and His lavish abundance provided to believers:
"Unsearchable riches… All spiritual blessings… All things that pertain to life and godliness… Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound… The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant… The exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us though Christ Jesus… Exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:8; 1:3; II Peter 1:3; Romans 5:20; I Timothy 1:14; Ephesians 2:7; 3:20)
Little wonder that the writer of Hebrews referred to Christ's redemption as "so great salvation" (Hebrews 2:3). For every moment of our existence, an abundance of God's provision exists far beyond any capacity of comprehension we presently possess - "exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think". A challenge exists, however, regarding our awareness and apprehending of such grace. Just as I don't live in the forested mountains of Virginia, and do not see their verdant beauty every day, so is Christ's abundant life not immediately viewable to my earthly senses and understanding. Sometimes life seems more like a desert, or in the imagery of our current consideration, a burned and desolate forest. Rather than "sound of abundance of rain", all seems parched and dry (I Kings 18:41). We see little, feel less, and wonder if the green spiritual forests of yesterday were merely pigments and figments of our imagination.
They weren't, and they aren't. All the verses quoted above (and many more), along with the wondrous measure of physical life in the natural creation, speak to the abundant life given to us in the Lord Jesus. Whether we see, feel, or seem to experience such grace or not, the Life abides. The grace remains. The abundance overflows. Our calling beckons us to the know the Lord Jesus so well that we see His forests with spiritual eyes even when our natural senses and awareness see nothing. "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). Such a path is not easy, and will not be known by those who must see the trees, the foliage, and the groundcover in order to believe in their abundant life and existence. Who will we be? What will we see? What will form our convictions? The choice is ours, again, a choice made more and more as we grow in our knowledge of God's being, nature, character, and way. Thus, to know Him and to understand His truth forms the most important purpose and quest of our lives because sometimes we see zillions of His trees and the forest of grace they reveal. Sometimes we don't, but they exist nonetheless, and our experience of God's abundance awaits the faith that grants greater knowledge of "so great salvation" than mere vision, sound, and touch could ever offer.
"Moses endured, as seeing Him who is invisible."
Weekly Memory Verse
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
(II Thessalonians 2:16-17)