David Tate1 Comment

Meditations in a Courtyard

David Tate1 Comment
Meditations in a Courtyard

While enjoying lunch with some friends today, I found myself absent-mindedly reaching over to a bush directly next to me, breaking off a tiny twig, and twirling it within my fingers as I listened to the duo continue rattling off in conversation. I stared at the twig and watched it rotate between my fingers, staring as it went round and round again, it’s rows of leaves becoming a verdant blur as it spiraled within my grasp.

I stopped spinning the twig. Held it up to eye level. Examined it closely. The voices of my friends were still present in the back of my mind, but my focus was not in the conversation at hand. It was on that little twig. That tiny little twig that could hide between my index and thumb if I held them at the right angle.

I stared at the maroon and brown and white-ish stem, defined by a single direction but bearing certain angles and shifts that made it a unique shape of its own.

I stared at the various leaves – thicker and darker at the bottom, while thinner and light at the top. I counted each and every one of them. There were 35 in all, spiraling upward around the stem, shooting off of the petioles and folding over like clothes hanging dry from a clothesline.

I stared at the veins on those leaves, each bolting off in a new direction, no leaf exactly alike in color, shade, size, or design.

All these things I could see on a tiny little branch. A tiny little branch that, if hidden at the right angle, could be hidden by two fingers.

And then I stared at the bush: How many thousands of little twigs such as this were on that single bush alone? And then to the entire flowerbed, where over a dozen bushes sat: How many millions of leaves were found in this small area, each one unique to its own design, folding at its own angle and bearing light-colored veins of various patterns? And then to the entire courtyard in which we sat: there were hundreds of bushes, dozens of trees, millions of blades of grass. The sky overhead was dotted with thousands of clouds, beyond which sat a blue sky that at night would surely give way to infinite stars.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

I stared at the leaf again, the words of Christ seemingly shouting from its buds. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you?

I raised the twig again, spinning it between my fingers once more. So tiny yet so beautiful. So insignificant yet shouting God’s creative power. Speaking to the magnificence of His artistic eye.

I looked to the people around me, watching as they walked by. Each walked with a different stride, carried their eyes trained on different things, had different builds and body types, and looked completely unique from the next. My thoughts returned to the conversation at hand between my friends, the beauty of two unique, distinct voices coming together to share ideas and thoughts and emotions and desires – things that tiny little plants were incapable of doing. Will He not much more clothe you?

O you of little faith?

When Jesus has said these things to his disciples, he had said them as consoling words of freedom. Freedom from stress. Freedom from anxiety. Freedom from fear. Freedom from all the things that daily enslave us, from all things under the sun that might cause of strife or worriment. “If God has so intentionally placed 35 unique little leaves on this tiny little twig amidst a sprawling world of billions of plants and things of the like, how much more will He take care of those whom He created in His image, those with whom He gave the power to create and communicate, to voice opinions and desires and longings and thoughts? Why do you see such brilliantly-designed lilies of the field and yet fear for your own well-being?”

You can imagine that in a time of final exams this was a particularly welcome thought, but the moral of Jesus’ lesson – while exceptionally true and relentlessly freeing – was not the object of my thoughts as I stared at that tiny little leaf. Yes, freedom in Christ is a beautiful thing to be enjoyed and appreciated, but there was another thought I couldn’t push away as I looked at that little plant between my index and thumb.

As I stared at the twig, I decided to focus not on myself, but on Him.

How amazing a God do we serve? How beautiful a Designer, how excellent a Creator! People spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to study the very basics of biology, yet God established the foundation of these studies with but words from His sovereign mouth. By just holding a little twig in our hand, we can see the various complexities and unique attributes belonging to that twig alone – what of the next twig, and the twig after that? Each is unique, each is beautiful, each was made with intention.

Our God is not a watchmaker who set the world in motion and let it go on by its own accord. In the beginning He created, yes, but even now He continues to create, continues to sustain, continues to express His artistic beauty through every single fabric and fiber of this thing we call reality. Over 4 babies are born per second, each one uniquely gifted with attributes screaming of God’s power and beauty. If each leaf is unique, then how much more is one of those beautiful young souls that is entering into this magnificent creation?

Christ spoke of the wonders of creation as a tool for us to be freed from earth’s enslavement, and I think His intentions for us expressing that freedom was by calling us to look towards God so as to revel in His amazing design. Just as Jonah found himself praising God in the belly of a fish, so we should find our faces planted in the ground as we sing songs to our Creator for the magnificent framework He has so lovingly laid out for us. How can we experience this beautiful creation and not prostrate ourselves in acts of humble worship? How many moments pass by and how many babies most be born before we lift our arms up to the heavens and marvel at the true intelligence that stands as the cornerstone of all existence?

NOW LET’S BE HONEST…the true path to freedom is not to focus on ourselves, but to focus on Him. See His glory, see His power, see His providence, see His love, see His design. See all these things and recognize that when a God such as this is in control of your life, nothing can overpower you. Nothing can cause you fear. Nothing can cause you stress. Nothing can cause you to be anxious. If you have placed saving faith and submitted to the Lordship to Jesus Christ, the one and only God, you are cloaked by His grace and encircled by His righteousness – If he puts so much thought into these things, how much more does He put into you?

So why do we have so little faith?

Look to Him. Marvel in Him. Be enraptured by Him. Lose yourself in Him. Look to His creation and let it reflect His beauty. Surround yourself in Him and fall down in revelation. In awe. In glory.

And then, once you have done these things and given the credit where credit is due, then you can be free. And whom the Son sets free, oh is free indeed.