This one's a bit longer than usual. Thanks of your patience.
(Friends: Most Saturdays for the duration of this year, I plan on sharing a message that relates to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto. I hope you will find it helpful, and as always, thanks for allowing us to send the devotionals to you. Glen).
"The Fall and the Falls"
It was one of those moments. Actually, there were two of them.
Frances and I hiked in the mountains of North Georgia on Thursday and Friday this past week. As always, the experience thrilled our hearts and senses in countless ways, leading to much realization and shared experience of God's indescribable beauty. Indeed, as on many other occasions over the years when seeing, hearing, or experiencing some aspect of His creativity and lovingkindness, I found myself simply saying to our Lord, over and over, "You are so beautiful!"
The two moments mentioned involved what I would term the Fall and the Falls. First, the changing colors of Autumn amazed us, and then, our visit to a wondrous place called Long Creek Falls amazed us yet again. The wonder commenced with the colors. The Southern region of the United States has been warm this fall, and also impacted by several storms that have passed through the area. Some reports have indicated this would make for less than spectacular autumn foliage displays. Driving to Georgia seemed to confirm the prospect as we saw color, but nothing like we have experienced in the past (some of you may remember my mention of our hike two years ago, when we saw God fully open up His palette of fall hues to riotously splash them onto the foliage and fauna of North Carolina during the very days we hiked there. I still feel awed upon every remembrance of that time when rain in the forecast threatened our very hike, but far more, when God in His creation bestowed the very glory of His creativity. Oh yes, so beautiful!). This time seemed to promise a lesser display, and the first day of our hike confirmed the forecast.
The second day, however, put an end to any notion of a limited Divine palette for this autumn season. Cold weather finally arrived in the days just before we began our time in the mountains. We awoke to a very chilly morning on Friday, and shivered a bit as we folded our tent and packed our supplies for the day's hike to Springer Mountain, Georgia (the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail). We've made this journey before, and knew what to expect regarding a mildly challenging ascent. We did not know, however, that during our descent from Springer, we would literally witness another riotous Divine display, as it were. About halfway down the mountain, we began to see hues that had not been there earlier in the day. Greens and browns gave way to golds, yellows, reds, oranges, and a million other color variations for which no names have been, or ever will be adequately assigned. Again, we both felt as if the leaves transformed even as we beheld them, and as the sun shone through the treetops and onto the foliage and forest floor. Yes, this time, rather than seeing the finished product of the Autumn Artist, Frances and I instead seemed to watch Him as He painted the forest! So beautiful!
The moment we will most remember, however, involved our second visit to Long Creek Falls during the hike. We actually planned our visit to the mountains so we could enjoy another time at the Falls, which I consider to be my favorite place on earth (Frances completely concurs!). We discovered it on a hike several years ago during a mountain foray performed in a two day driving rainstorm that soaked us to the gills. I'll never forget the first glimpse of the Falls, which are nestled in a beautifully forested and secluded spot that perfectly frame the rushing water and sparkling creek. "We'll come back here again" I said to Frances that day, and again, she wholly agreed with the prospect. So, we found ourselves at the Falls yesterday afternoon, after venturing there Thursday at the beginning of our hike. We wanted to see them in the late afternoon light, and we were not disappointed. Have I used the term "so beautiful?" It was, but even more, we both knew that the Lord gave to us another blessed gift, another of those moments that first take our breath, and then rob us of the capacity for finding words to think, to speak, and even to pray. We sat together with our eyes transfixed on all the scenes at hand. That which most captured my attention simply involved the cascading water as it rushed over the rocks and onto the sparkling, turbulent pool below. Power and beauty seemed completely united in the cascade. I gazed into the torrent with tears in my eyes, and with the longing to think, say, or pray something that might serve as an adequate response to the wonder we beheld. Nothing intelligible came, however, until a thought - actually a verse of Scripture - come rushing into my heart and mind like the torrents that surged over the Falls.
"He that believeth on Me as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).
The Lord Jesus Christ uttered these words to His disciples, and ultimately to all who trust and submit themselves to Him in faith. He calls each of us to serve as the reservoirs of His glorious Person, and as the flowing fount of life to our particular spheres of influence. We choose to believe in Him "as the Scripture hath said." Who does the Bible declare the Lord Jesus to be? What has He already done for His Father, and for us? What is He doing? What will He do forevermore? All who devote themselves to the centrality of Christ in God's purposes become the holy fountains of His Spirit, His life, and His truth. By both practical example and verbal expression, God leads and enables us to bear witness to who Christ is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He promises to do in both time and eternity. "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me" (Acts 1:8).
Two moments to forever remember, two among many, actually. Every moment matters to the God who works all things "according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 1:11). Some, however, are more obvious to our presently limited capacity for awareness. The Fall and the Falls both bore witness to the incredible beauty of our blessed Lord. I was keenly aware that I would remember both blessings for the rest of my life, and far more, for the rest of my eternity. So beautiful is the Father from whom we receive "every good gift and every perfect gift" (James 1:17). The Psalmist realized such sublime splendor, and prayed accordingly...
"Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Without Me, ye can do nothing… I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
(John 15:5; Philippians 4:13)