This year’s Florida drive was a little different than most years – primarily because it was in September, not March/April – though we did follow our usual path. We take the eastern route down, driving around Columbus and through Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Jacksonville to get to my aunt’s home near the Atlantic coast. Then, after our time in Orlando, we drive ‘straight up’ I-75 through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio to get home.
What made it different is what I was able to observe while driving – and what was absent, snow and ice! The eastern route has beautiful mountains, passes cut through layers of rocks, tunnels, and many more incredible sights. The return trip this year started with cotton-like fog covering the valleys and hilltops as we departed from an overnight in Chattanooga. This was followed by real cotton blooms in Georgia, tobacco being harvested in Kentucky, cornfields (I think) in Ohio, and the very familiar drive from Dayton to Detroit. Both ways I kept thinking how “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19.1)
Then, Tuesday night, sitting in our family room, I watched the sky repeatedly lighted up with an incredible lightning display over Lake Saint Clair. It was so beautiful that I did not mind holding an umbrella over my head as I tended the grill on our deck! Yes, “The heavens do declare the glory of God, and the sky above still proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19.1)
This same work of our creator God is seen in the many ways he continues to preserve us and all creation. Science, technology, the powers of the human mind, and medical advancements also “declare the glory of God,” while the adaptations and transformations in nature “proclaim his handiwork.” After walking through the Red Sea Moses proclaimed, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15.11) Five Hundred years later David followed suit, “There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. … For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86.8, 10)
This is something that we, as God’s children, often seem to forget. While I continue to encourage God’s people to be caring (of our neighbors), cautious (as new discoveries are discussed), and creative (sharing Christ’s priceless treasures in old ways and new), the word that stands out to me this day is the fourth one, courageous. “The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!” (Psalm 99.1) In other words, it is only those who reject the Lord’s care who have a reason to “tremble” and “quake” in these times. As children of God in Christ Jesus, we know that “the Lord reigns … enthroned upon the cherubim.” This is why we need “not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (Psalm 46.2-3)
Yes, from hurricanes to forest fires, through pandemics, cancers, and world-wide stories of dangers and disasters, if one’s focus is purely upon the scene on this earth (try reading Revelation 6), fear and trembling are justified. But when these same situations are viewed through the lens of God’s gospel promises in Christ, we are empowered to say with courage, “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14.8)
Creation’s glories may be tainted by sin. The peoples may claim all earthly advancements are either through humanity’s greatness or natural processes. But this will never change the reality that – whether one is looking at the sights out the car window or listening to the news on the radio – “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19.1) Thus, we, day in and day out, can believe Jesus as he says to us, “Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12.32) as we behold all of creation’s glories, maladies, and disasters.