Sunday, July 17, 2016

PSALM 104 continued...

Telluride, Colorado

"He sends forth springs in the valleys;
They flow between the mountains;
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
They lift up their voices among the branches.
He waters the mountains from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works."
(verses 10-13)

This gives an image of our creative God at play: waterfalls, birds and beasties.  When God makes something, He saw "that it was good."  I'll remind you of a secret most artists know, that when we create, there is always a feeling of not being satisfied, that it is not quite good enough.  I believe it is built into the fabric of our fallen world.  Only God creating can say that He "saw it was good."  It's okay because it gives us impetus to keep trying.  

Now who can top God's canvas?
There's another secret that I have found as an artist, even as a very young budding artist, that it is an intensely personal endeavor.  In one car trip of my childhood, my brother tried to grab a picture I had just drawn out of my hand and I literally ate it so he could not see it.  Yeah, I know.  I did not even want my own family to see my artwork.  I grew up a little since then, but just a little.  I still feel pain to put my words into print, especially my creative fiction, so much so that I feel like groaning.  If my man, my biggest fan, did not encourage me, push me to do it, I wouldn't. 
Alpine Gulch, Ouray, Colorado

Yet God in His goodness, shares the perfect beauty of His creation with us fresh from His fingers.  His warm breath of calling things into being can almost be felt as we stand in awe and wonder of His works.  As I view photographs for my blog on Pinterest, I almost hurt.  Do you know that pain, the pain of beauty?  I guess it's because it fills my heart to bursting.  I long to go to those places, especially the familiar locations such as Colorado.  I love how the sacred song writer has said, "The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works."

"He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
And wine which makes man's heart glad,
So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man's heart.
The trees of the Lord drink their fill,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
Where the birds build their nests,
And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers (conies).
(verses 14-18)

A marmot or woodchuck

God provides the cattle grass, but man must labor to bring forth food.  Since the curse of the Garden, man must labor, toil and know the frustration of fighting against the law of a tainted world.  "Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread..."(Geneses 3:17-19) Still God would rather our faces glisten with restorative oil than with sweat.

In the Beginning, all creatures, including man, were vegetarians.  It wasn't until after that flood that animals began eating each other, and somewhere along the line, man discovered steak!  That is when flesh-eaters became fearsome, and man became a hunter.  It was no longer live and let live.  The bigger, more scary the beast, the more man attacked (dinosaurs, dragons, sea monsters) until some became extinct. 

So, it was a good thing that man discovered how to grow grapes and squeeze out the olive oil.  These were the earliest medicines to pour on a wound.  Adam Clarke says that it means to anoint the body.  My daily fanatic-Hebrew-reading-man just told me this past week how the Hebrew word for wine almost always means fresh squeezed.  Isn't it just like the curse of this ol' fallen world that is  so abused?  This picture of a happy man with his face glistening with oil reminds me of a quote from my evangelist great-grandfather Uncle Bud that went something like he wanted to have pomegranate juice dripping down his face and pomegranate seeds in his beard.  That was his adaptation of this verse.  Indeed, I planted a pomegranate tree in his honor that produces such juicy jewels. 

Don't you love the picture of the trees drinking their fill?  Adam Clarke says that "God's providence not only extends to men and cattle, but also to the trees of the field and forest," Then he paints the pretty picture, "All fowls love verdure; and have their residence where they can find wood and water...God has provided shelter and support for the greatest and smallest birds: they are all objects of His providential regard."

"And the storks..."  Not just the small twittering birds, swallows, sparrows and such who never stop singing God's praises, but the trees are the castles of the largest of birds, the storks.  One time we were on a childhood family trip to the Lake of the Ozarks and rented a boat with a small motor.  We came across a tiny island with a few trees where some sort of stork, or heron, or cranes were awkwardly perched in their huge stick nests.  My mother, who poured over bird books, thought perhaps these were the nearly extinct whooping cranes due to the noises they made.  We did not draw too close so as not to scare them away.

From the Alps
Driving through Glacier National Park once, we were awed to see almost glowing white puffs of mountain goats clinging on impossible cliffs.  Growing up camping in Colorado, we were quite familiar with the high pitched squeak of the conies who sometimes peaked out of rocks above timberline at twelve to thirteen thousand foot elevation.  "The barren tops of the highest hills, and the craggy abrupt precipices of the most stupendous rocks, are not without their uses: they afford protection, refuge, and food, for creatures whose dispositions and habits are suited to such places; and thus no part of the creation is useless."  (Adam Clarke) Well, for goodness sake, if God created mountain tops for nothing other than purest beauty, then that is good enough for me.  But He tops them off with majestic and small creatures like the conies (between hamster and guinea pig size) for our viewing enjoyment.  

Yes, I'd sure have to say that what God has made is good, very good.  I'm more than satisfied, along with the earth, with the fruit of His works.


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