Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Painted Hills.
This past week my wife Lynn and I traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains to prepare our summer cottage for its long winter’s nap. This year, the timing was just right for us to be engaged in that activity just at the height of the explosion of color as the trees on the hillsides turned their respective shades of reds, oranges and yellows. It is the time of year when even if it is overcast and rainy as it was this past weekend, the delightful alteration is still one of the most beautiful scenes imaginable. Driving along the interstate this time of year, generally a bland activity, becomes a never ending indulgence, taking in one masterpiece after another as the roadway becomes the finest of art museums. If interstate 81 were a toll road (and I am glad it is not) this time of year it would not be considered toll but rather an admission price people would be foolish to forego. A look in any direction reveals yet another work of art by Creator, Almighty God. The views are almost surreal and you half expect to be able to look at what the eye beholds and see written over the landscape the signature of God Himself somewhere on the bottom. That signature is in fact there…it is written across all of it.
Ecclesiastes 3:14 in the Amplified Bible says: I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor can anything be taken from it, for God does it so that men will fear and worship Him [with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is God]. As I was driving along I was thinking how true this is. What could be added to what I was seeing that would make it more beautiful? Nothing. What could be subtracted from the scene my eyes were taking in without in some way diminishing the outcome? Nothing. Only God can do anything and everything He does to such complete perfection. As this verse says, the reason for doing that is that we might view Him as we should. Does God need our reverence to make Him God? Of course not. Does our worship of Him make Him worthy of worship? Not at all. So, as I was driving it dawned on me…God does this for our benefit not His. He does this so we might be capable of walking in a correct relationship with Him.
This is not the only scripture that reveals this truth. Revelation 4:11 says “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” His word goes on to proclaim in Psalm 19:1The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. As I drove considering these things another of my personal favorites kept infiltrating my thoughts. Psalm 90:2 says; Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. All of the beauty that I was taking in as I traveled along, all of the beauty I was unable to see, all of it is there so that you and I can recognize that He is God and is worthy to be praised.
Job 12:7-9 raises an interesting consideration. It makes the point that though we as humans are able to reason and have the ability for higher and critical thinking that separates us from the rest of creation, we are actually the last to be able or willing to come into agreement with the rest of it. Those verses say this; “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? It appears that we may be the last to know this all important truth, it seems all of the rest of creation has been willing and able all along to give praise and glory to their creator. Perhaps that is why the painted hills seem to come so alive each fall. It is almost as if they have been saving their very best to in unison ascribe all of their glory to the One True God who is deserving of every bit of it and more.
God’s word is clear. All of this has been done that we might move into alignment with the rest of creation and give glory, honor and praise to Creator God. All of it so that we might recognize that He is God and we are not. That we are His people, that it is He who has made us and not we ourselves. (Psalm 100) Romans 1:20 says that all of this has been done so there can be no other conclusion for us to make. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
God has created such beauty, and has lovingly placed it on display for all to see. Why? So we might acknowledge Him and the fact that He alone has done it all with us on His mind . He needed to get our attention. Because there was another awesome scene of terrible beauty that He had planned since before the world was first formed as we read in the first chapter of Peter’s first letter. Nature points to God, God points to His Son Jesus. John 3:16 says For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God has gone to incredible lengths to show us just how much He loves us and desires that all of us spend eternity with Him. His word says that it is his desire that everyone would see that love, relent to that love, and accept that Jesus Christ is in fact Lord, so that everyone could be saved.
Funny how a ride along the interstate on an Autumn afternoon looking at the immense beauty of the painted hills can bring the mind all the way around to a more complete understanding of the immeasurable love God has for us. I am grateful for experiences like those because they drive home the truth that God does love you and me and we are able to know that love because He is willing to do just about anything to make sure we don’t miss it…even paint the hills.
So now, allowing the wonder of His incredible handiwork to direct your focus toward what an incredible God He is, give Him your praise and worship as you were created to do…and go be awesome!