This being a slow week for work, I have driven to a state park I’m not familiar with to hike and reflect. It’s good to get out of the house, away from the grind. As I park my car, I’m grateful to see that I’m alone. I like having the forest to myself.
Perhaps it’s because of what I wrote about last time. But I am more than ever keenly aware that there are stories here in which I am not the main character. I’m not even a bit player. At best I make a cameo appearance. The unpaid extra.
Okay -- truthfully, I’m the guy from the audience who sneaks into the background of the shot.
The seasons are slowly changing. Not much is green, though brambles – still clinging to last year’s weathered berries – are putting out shoots. Some trees have buds.
A few birds call. Squirrels sound ten times their size as they leap through the carpet of leaves in the silent woods. Not much else moves in midday.
Still, I eavesdrop on the ongoing story of survival. A tale of decay and regeneration. Living and breeding. It’s a story that cares not a whit about my problems.
And right now, that’s refreshing. I’m tired of all my mental trails that endlessly loop around my problems to resolve. It feels good to be the odd man, out.
That’s not to say that humans haven’t left their mark. I come across a field where a few, oversized highchairs are rusting. At first, I think they’re deer stands. But on closer inspection, I decide they may be lifeguard chairs from the beach at the lake.
They remind me of thrones. It’s apropos to think of human thrones being slowly absorbed by the natural world. They also point to the true throne above and behind the world – the Creator who’s will it is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” (Eph. 2:10)
The lessons of empathy and humility this last week has challenged me to climb out of my own “throne.” To open myself up to the stories of others. To be more consistent in prayer. And to replace at least a portion of my hubris-filled problem solving with a simple, open need for Jesus.
Before I leave the park, I linger at the lake’s dam. It’s a picture for me of the abundant strength and grace poured out through Jesus. A little later in Ephesians 2, Paul prays that we all might experience the hope, riches and power available to us – the same power that raised Jesus to his throne “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Eph. 2:21)
The Lord enthroned.
Puts our problems into perspective, doesn’t it?
It feels good to be small, Lord, before your complex world and your eternal throne. Break into our personal narratives to raise our eyes to the story we are all to fit into: Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Reader: tell me about a time you felt wonderfully small in a natural setting.