“For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you. And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12
Early this Sunday morning I walked over to the chapel as I often do, to read a passage aloud from Habakkuk 2. I speak it loudly to the trees toward the valley below, and imagine them echoing back a leafy ‘Amen!’ This morning I also took time to wander up through the wooded draw where, in years past, I would spend much time in prayer. I had kept clear a pathway of nearly 100 yards of lush moss, and I would walk up and down that velvety carpet speaking to the Lord. Those were precious times.
It was 1980 when I began that, and the trees along the path were perhaps 25 to 30 years old. Today, some 35 years later, the setting has changed a great deal. Many trees have become great oaks and hickories, with a massive spread over the rocky creek that runs down the draw. Others, though, have decayed and fallen across the pathway, or gotten misshapen, or scrawny and awkward looking. The whole area has a different look and feel, though no human has impacted it at all.
The marvelous organic process of nature is always a potent reminder that change is inevitable and necessary among living things. The only constant in that quiet glade is the precious presence of the One who made it. Even the rocky creek constantly changes. I’ve harvested hundreds of beautiful stones from it, but year after year more of them are exposed and available for me. It kind of confirms the rumor that Arkansas actually grows rocks!
I miss those quiet walks through the woods; my ankles haven’t kept up with my desires. But on this Sunday morning I was blessed to remember the spiritual seed that was scattered along that overgrown pathway, and to sense that, although the landscape had changed, the One watching over that seed had not. (Malachi 3:6) Because that is so, we can embrace the sometimes difficult or unexpected changes of life with the confidence that everything of substance and value in our lives will endure, and indeed prosper, through those pesky transitions. Change is not loss in the Creator’s hand.
When Jeanie first set foot on this land on a blustery January day in 1979, she walked along the woods edge praying to know the Lord’s mind about purchasing it. After a few minutes of savoring the crisp winter air, she stopped. “Funny,” she said to herself, “I thought for a moment I heard singing.” As she slowly followed the tree line, she heard it again, like whispering in the trees, but with melody and choral richness coming from a great distance. She paused. “We’ll take it,” she told the real estate agent. Trees don’t always simply ‘clap their hands.’ Sometimes they provide a grand auditorium for some holy communication! Be sure to get outside once in a while.