8:18

Drawn by kindness

Drawn by kindness

It’s a joy to be outside.

The west of the sky above this little field is dark with gray clouds.  In the east, the sun intermittently streams light down upon the river as the sparser clouds crawl past.  The trees, just beginning to bud, are silhouetted against the liquid silver and gold of the water.

A cacophony of birds is all around me. The sodden ground is soft underfoot, despite the warm air’s attempts to siphon off some of that moisture.  Today, spring is happy to be here.

This morning, before coming to the river, I sang “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”  Its theme of creation celebrating the goodness of God seems to have arrived at this plot of land ahead of me.

I have been meditating on a single verse in Isaiah for days.  And it fits this morning well:

  I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
    the deeds for which he is to be praised,
    according to all the Lord has done for us—
yes, the many good things
    he has done for Israel,
    according to his compassion and many kindnesses.  (Isaiah 63:7)

My commentary points out that God’s kindness (hesed) opens and closes this verse in a plural form – kindnesses – to “intensify and amplify” (Motyer) the contemplation of his love.

That love is brought to light in three ways.

Deeds done: the verb emphasizes the completeness of his actions on our behalf.

Many good things: literally “abundant goodness.”

Compassion: the same word used in 49:15: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?”

But there’s a fourth aspect of his love that shows up two verses later:

In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
    he lifted them up and carried them
    all the days of old.

This Hebrew word for love, in its noun form, shows up only here in Isaiah.  According to Motyer, this love “delights in the companionship of the loved one.”  It’s a mind-blowing thought that as I revel this morning in all the beauty he has freely given, his delight is in me.  Not because I deserve it.  But simply because he loves me.

It’s as if he invites me to sit with him so that we can enjoy this show together.

Just then, I catch a flash of blue in the corner of my sight.  It is a bluebird, vibrant against the leafless brush.  As I wait and watch, it soon joins its mate on the top of their bird box.  In these (hopefully waning) days of isolation, it’s a tender and satisfying scene – a display symbolic of companionship and enjoyment.

All this beauty.  All the work completed in Christ.  All the abundant kindnesses.  They’re all designed to draw us into intense love that he has for us.

And fill our hearts with praise.

All Your works with joy surround You,
Earth and heav'n reflect Your rays,
Stars and angels sing around You,
Center of unbroken praise;
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Reader: Want to share with me one of the abundant kindnesses the Lord has shown you?

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.