Tuesday, November 29, 2005

This good day

I must apologize to those of you who have missed my blogs the last few days. I’ve been in PA over Thanksgiving weekend…enjoying the people and scenery, connecting with some friends. And, spending time in the woods hunting whitetail deer! :-)

I spent a glorious day yesterday…walked into the woods in the pristine, pre-dawn darkness, vast canopy of stars overhead. My eyes ‘prevented the dawn,’ in wonder and majesty…sitting in the darkened woods waiting for dawn. My mind went to that phrase of the psalmist, where in worship he confessed that his prayers ‘prevented the dawn,’ i.e. ran before the dawn, waiting the Presence as creation waits dawn.

And then, in the gradual lightening…as the pink dawn painted the Eastern sky, shining down the valley in a towering skyscape of changing clouds. I soaked in the scene on my mountain perch, high above a valley…in inner praise for outer glory.

And then to watch the sun in its chariot, running ‘like a bridegroom burst from his chamber,’ across the sky, burning chariot and fiery horses, crafting blue sky and then mountain shadows of clouds…then, later in the afternoon, casting elevation shadows like a master painter, playing off lighter and darker hues in majestic effect.

I watched as the sunlight hues highlighted the brown of the winter trees, merging these in distant hues of gray, then blue, and purple…framed with distant mist over the creek, thousands of feet in the valley below. What glory!

Calvin says that a reverent heart can look at nature and say, “Here is God!” My mind remembered this phrase on the mountain… Of course, this is not at all to say that “Nature is God,” but rather, in full devotion to look at nature and say, “Here is the Artist!” He has displayed something of His majesty, His glory, in His vast creation…something so true and powerful, that to encounter it honestly is to encounter a desire to worship Him in higher degree: mountain cathedral, ocean call!

I waited on the mountain until dark, and walked out with silver moon in the sky, early evening stars hanging nearby…human lights blinking on like beacon fireflies in the distant plateau far below, evening dance starting all over again…

And I gave thanks! This good day…it is a gift from Him. Twelve hours alone in His creation, but exponential hours of lessons and worship.



Roger Patterson said...

I just got down from a tree stand this evening. I feel what you just so eloquently expressed, each time I go to the woods. I just don’t seem to be able to articulate it as you just did. Sometimes it is hard to keep from breaking the silence with a shout of praise. I love your description of “God-art”. This is the reason worshipping in the woods is so easy and natural.

Loy Mershimer said...

Thanks, Roger!

King David also experienced this mystical encounter with nature, and in Psalm 19 he relates it in a three or four-fold pattern of worship.

1. First is the encounter, nature's revelation:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from its heat...

2. Second is the immediate praise this revelation evokes, praise for God's good character and Law: revelation in nature evoking the higher revelation of Word:

The law of the LORD is perfect,
converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb!

3. Third is the confession/humility/inner renewal when God's person and Law is honestly received:

Moreover by them Your servant is
warned, and in keeping them there is
great reward. Who can understand
his errors? Cleanse me from secret
faults. Keep back Your servant also
from presumptuous sins; let them not
have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.

4. And fourthly is the calling, the sending aspect of vital worship...where the altar touches the lips, and the worshipper says, 'Here am I, send me!' Make me pleasing in your sight, O Redeemer!

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer!

This is a pretty good pattern of worship...which for the reverent heart can begin 'on the mountain of God,' or at the sea...in God's cathedral of forest song and ocean roar.

As far as 'not being able to articulate it,' why, I'd say just keep trying...keep writing.

R.E. Carroll used to tell me, "Loy, reading makes a learned man, but writing makes an exact man." I didn't like it then when he told me that...but in struggling to express myself in academics and in some relationships over the last few years I've learned the wisdom in those words. So I struggle still, but the words have become more part of me...as the Word has demanded more of me! :-)

So, keep writing. I really like that one blog you did where you talked of walking in nature and hearing a Civil War re-enactment in the distance. You probably express more than you think!

Thanks for your thoughts and heart!


Roger Patterson said...

Thanks Loy,
The mention R. E. Carroll was a pleasant surprise. I remember him staying with us one week-end when I was about 15. We hit it off quickly because of his love of nature. One morning I stumbled across him sitting in the back yard reading his bible and I remember vividly the mist in his eyes and the sense of awe in his voice as he talked about how incredible heaven would be. It was as if I had just stepped into a sanctuary. He invited me to stay and talk and kept my attention for a couple of hours with his explanations of stars and the wonders of the heavens. It was a short but profound encounter that impacted a young teenager. How fitting to be reminded of those wonderful memories in light of the previous discussion. I really needed that.