by June Friesen
Time – what is time? The online dictionary defines it as “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.” As I consider time I am intrigued at how we as a human race embrace time in so many different ways. For some time is accepted rather easily, for others they wish that time would stand still for a while so that they could just be, still others wish that time would move more quickly as they want to get on to new things or experiences in their lives and then others just wish it would slow down. So I ask the question, ‘Is time any different than it was at the time when God created the universe?’ And maybe even a more important question to ask oneself is ‘what should I do with my time to make it more useful or more productive, etc.?’ But given all this discussion I have opened here I want to specifically address that as in the photo below it is time to bow one’s head from time to time and show gratitude and respect to God for everything it is that we have to enjoy, whether it is in abundance or just adequate or at times maybe it seems a bit inadequate.
I must admit that when I observed this bird for a while I was challenged as well as intrigued – what is he doing? Why is he sitting there with his head against his chest? I was not close enough to see if his eyes were closed or not, but he was sitting very still – as if showing respect and honor to his Creator. During autumn in the United States and Canada we find ourselves focusing on being thankful. It is the season of autumn or fall which is also our season of harvest. The produce of the labor and working of the farmers and farm laborers is gathered or being gathered and the land and plants are prepared for the season of winter rest which is ahead. Let us look at a couple of Scriptures as we direct our attitude towards gratitude.
O my soul, bless God! God, my God, how great you are! beautifully, gloriously robed, dressed up in sunshine, and all heaven stretched out for your tent. You built your palace on the ocean deeps, made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings. You commandeered winds as messengers, appointed fire and flame as ambassadors. You set earth on a firm foundation so that nothing can shake it, ever. You blanketed earth with ocean, covered the mountains with deep waters; Then you roared and the water ran away— your thunder crash put it to flight. Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out in the places you assigned them. You set boundaries between earth and sea; never again will earth be flooded. You started the springs and rivers, sent them flowing among the hills. All the wild animals now drink their fill, wild donkeys quench their thirst. Along the riverbanks the birds build nests, ravens make their voices heard. You water the mountains from your heavenly reservoirs; earth is supplied with plenty of water. You make grass grow for the livestock, hay for the animals that plow the ground. Oh yes, God brings grain from the land, wine to make people happy, their faces glowing with health, a people well-fed and hearty. God’s trees are well-watered— the Lebanon cedars he planted. Birds build their nests in those trees; look—the stork at home in the treetop. Mountain goats climb about the cliffs; badgers burrow among the rocks.
Jeremiah 5: 23-24 – ‘How can we honor our God with our lives, The God who gives rain in both spring and autumn and maintains the rhythm of the seasons, Who sets aside time each year for harvest and keeps everything running smoothly for us?”
As you read these verses what caught your spirit up in gratitude? Mountains, water, animals, trees, birds, the order of the universe, …… Or did you find yourself reading through the verses in anticipation of what was coming after the verses? So often I find myself reading things yet afterwards I cannot really remember what it was that I really read or at least what the full meaning of it was. For me that means that I need to take the time to slow down, the time to concentrate on what it is that I am reading, or maybe what I am praying. A number of years ago I was challenged to pray with a prayer diary. I faithfully wrote out my daily prayers as letters to God nearly every day for several years. Yes, I admit that I stopped doing it, picked it up for a while from time to time but have not been doing it consistently. One thing that was very meaningful to me in that practice is how and when God would answer my prayers. I have started a prayer diary again, not quite as extensive but none the less it is a discipline to get me to be conscious of my time sitting with God in prayer. You may want to try it – start slow at first – find someplace comfortable – or sometimes do it in nature (weather permitting), sometimes nestled snug and warm, sometimes at a table to stay alert….. Or another practice is a gratitude journal. It is a practice I did for several years and it literally changed how I looked at my life and the world around me.
TIME TO BE GRATEFUL
As I ponder the world around me today God
There is so many gifts that You have given to humanity (and I am included) –
Thank you for Your favor on all –
For some it is more and for some it is less – but we are grateful for what we have.
Thank you for the creation around us –
The universe out in space –
Well, we are kind of out in space as well
Just that we inhabit one of the planets You created to support human life
And so much more.
Thank you for the plants –
So many kinds that we are unable to count them all –
And for most of us we have not even seen them all –
But they are so helpful to sustaining our lives.
They help give us protection in the storms of life,
They give us shade from the heat of the sun at noonday,
They provide the atmosphere with extra oxygen in the night time,
And many of them provide nourishment for humanity and animals.
And then of course there are the bushes and plants –
Oh what a glorious abundance of things they gift to us –
Flowers of so much beauty,
Seeds that nourish the animals as well as humanity –
Vegetables and fruits –
So much variety – and ways to enjoy –
Right from the harvest, some cooked, some made to juice, and so much more…
The trees provide shelter, they provide shade,
They are a wonder at how they grow and give sustenance
And so much life.
God today we have been challenged to take time –
Time out to appreciate Your gifts to us in so many ways –
Help us also learn from creation around us the gift of taking time –
Just as the bird at the beginning with head bowed in the fullness of day
Saw it necessary to pause in ‘bird gratitude’ –
May we take the time to remember that You created each of us
To take time out to be grateful to You as well –
photos by June Friesen, Scripture from The Message Translation.
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