#367: Things Not Often Seen

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Reflections by the Pond
November 3, 2008

Things Not Often Seen

I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Your work
And muse on Your deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
You have made known Your strength among the peoples.

Psalm 77:11-14

There he was, just as obvious and nonchalant as could be.

The Saturday morning was bright and crisp—a comfortably typical autumn day. Linda and I were sharing our tea and coffee, respectively, in the sun room when the new movement caught our eye.

We had been watching a flock of wild turkeys nattering about the pond, the young ones from this spring now about full-grown. In preparation for winter, the group was busily searching out acorns in faded grass littered with the oak tree's shed leaves. The newcomer caught them by surprise, as well.

Traipsing across the lawn between the back of the house and the pond was a bobcat. The wild lynx—about the size of a large dog—must have recently fed, for he paid the alarmed turkeys no mind. He just trotted resolutely across the back lawn, through the stand of trees, toward the barn and east fence. He paused at the lower garden (now cleared and cleaned of produce), then continued on into the adjacent pasture.

In seventeen years, we had never seen a bobcat on our property.

° ° °

On yet another Saturday morning I was out doing maintenance around our land. Down near the end of our drive I hauled a bag of brush from the back of my utility cart, prepared to broadcast its contents into the shallow depression between the gravel drive and the east fence. By the grace of a considerate God I happened to look down just as I was about to release my load. There, curled up in the beam of sunlight that warmed a fallen log, was a huge rattlesnake.

Quickly backing away (needless to say), I realized that this was probably the same snake that had so interested our outdoor cat, Thornton, last year when it had visited the patio outside the library window (as chronicled in the August 6, 2007 issue of Listening). The rattler was about four feet long, and as big around as my lower arm.

Even though we knew there to be rattlesnakes in Madison County, it is a rare occurrence to actually see one. Even more rare is seeing one twice in one year. The intimidating reptile does do some good (by consuming mice and vermin, for example), and is, in fact, a protected species in these environs. But being so near a poisonous snake—especially one so large—can be disconcerting.

° ° °

"But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;
And let the fish of the sea declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?"

Job 12:7-10

The gaze of the unregenerate, as well as that of the lazy believer, falls upon the wonders of nature without seeing the hand of its Maker. Or, worse, their gaze does not fall upon it at all. We live in an over-caffeinated world ruled by the metallic tyranny of the computer chip. Speed is all. The brash mechanics of modern living have overwhelmed the more organic urge to pause and be silent. Today it is more important to share with strangers the strangling minutia of our lives, than to be quietly circumspect—and private.

As a result, there are wonders not often seen. We miss them because we are not looking for them.

Come and see the works of God,
Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men.

Psalm 66:5

We are more tuned to the wonder of what man has created than we are to the wonder of that which has been created by God.

We are more tuned to the wonder of the gadget glued to our ear, than we are to the wonder of the friend with whom we are speaking.

We are more tuned to the wonder of ourselves, than we are to the wonder of a God that dwells all around—and in—us.

° ° °

Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:26

Will you notice the next time God passes something of wonder right in front of you? If you do notice, will you see Him in it?

Will you see Him in the nesting bird, the leaping fawn, the stealth of a bobcat?

Will you see Him in a baby's first step, in a friend's comforting embrace, in the joy of a reunion?

Will you hear His voice in the wind, see His grandeur in the sunset, hear His holiness and majesty in the crashing thunderstorm?

Will you see Him even in those things that bring discomfort—the reproach of a brother, the wise counsel of a sister, the loss of a loved one to death?

Will you, at last, open your eyes and mind to the wonders of God not often seen?

Show me Thy face—one transient gleam
Of loveliness divine,
And I shall never think or dream
Of other love save Thine:
All lesser light will darken quite,
All lower glories wane,
The beautiful of earth will scarce
Seem beautiful again.

Show me Thy face—my faith and love
Shall henceforth fixed be,
And nothing here have power to move
My soul's serenity.
My life shall seem a trance, a dream,
And all I feel and see,
Illusive, visionary—Thou
The one reality!