Since taking early retirement a few months ago, life has certainly slowed down for me. One of the many joys I’ve had during this time has been an increasing appreciation for God’s amazing creation. Instead of attending meetings, coaching and mentoring people (which I loved), I’m getting a lot of time to spend outdoors, something that I hadn’t done very much for years.
Though it took a while to warm up in central Illinois (and we wondered if it ever would), it finally did. That allowed me to work on our lawn, putting a down a weed preventer and also some grass seed. Then I hoped for rain, but watered when we didn’t get rain. When some of the local garden shops had some sales, we stocked up on perennials for our garden, which over the past few years had not gotten much attention. Then I hoped for rain, and watered when we didn’t get much. Later, we had some evergreens, hosta’s and daylilies planted during a very hot period. Again, I hoped for rain, and watered when we didn’t get any.
I’ve enjoyed some wonderful time reading and writing on our patio (or what my wife Tammy has come to call my “outdoor office”). I also enjoy watching the birds at our feeders just off the patio, though at the rate they are emptying the feeders (daily), I joke that I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to continue to afford to feed them.
This summer, Tammy and I completed an eight-week discipleship class led by a pastor we love, who recently left our church to take a call at a church about a half an hour away. The class is on “Abiding in Christ for the Sake of Creation”, and included two sessions at a beautiful nearby five-acre garden owned by a dear seminary professor and his wife. While at the garden, we enjoyed opportunities to commune with God in solitude. The class has given me a greater appreciation for how God is revealed in creation.
Theology distinguishes between special revelation (the Bible) and general revelation, which includes God’s creation. Keith Mathison tells us that “General revelation is referred to as “general” because it has a universal content and is revealed to an overall audience. “Through general revelation to all men, God communicates His existence, His power, and His glory, such that men are left without excuse.” Theologian Robert Godfrey adds “General revelation, properly speaking, is God’s clear display of His glory and power in the works of creation and providence. As the Scriptures explain: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2). He goes on to state that “All nature, all the time, shouts out the existence, power, and splendor of God.”
Do you enjoy God’s creation? Not just the majestic oceans and mountains, but the trees, butterflies, and yes, even those squirrels who eat your bird food? Do you see how through general revelation creation reveals God’s existence to all?
September 10, 2018 at 10:33 am
Love this post, Bill. And while I’m NOT retired 🙂 so I don’t get to make use of my ‘outdoor office’ you are so right about taking a few minutes and just marveling at the infinite creativity we see in nature. Our pastor and his kids cultivate monarch caterpillars and watch them through the metamorphosis into butterflies, and he posts pictures on FB – the last one commented on how incredible the transformation that happens in stillness. I thought it such an appropriate statement considering the changes going on here at work.
September 10, 2018 at 7:13 pm
That is a wonderful essay!