I just returned from a family getaway in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Parris, my daughter Grace and grandson James went to visit Parris’ mom and step-dad. It was an awesome time of rest and reflection surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation in the Smoky Mountains. The last night we were there we went out for North Carolina barbeque in Maggie Valley and I found myself looking out the window of the restaurant. It was located next to a bubbling stream, and suddenly I became aware of God’s handprint on His creation just outside of the window. As we drove home the following day I began to reflect on how the Lord has revealed Himself in His creation. The following are some of those observations.
First, I was reminded of the Lord in that bubbling stream running through the valley. Rivers and streams are beautiful pictures of our Lord. In Revelation 22, John said that he saw this incredible river flowing from the throne of our Lord. This river is a place of refreshing and renewal. What a great place for refreshing on a hot summer day, bathing in a cool mountain stream. In the same way the Lord is our refreshing in our hot tiresome spiritual journey. We can step into Him, the River of His Presence, and experience great times of renewal.
Next I noticed the incredible growth in the mountains this summer. There was green growth and incredible vines growing everywhere. The Lord pictured Himself as a vine in John 15. This green growth speaks to us about spiritual nourishment. Our souls are nourished by the life of God that flows throughout the body of Christ. As we stay connected to His body this life flows into us and nourishes our souls. The results is spiritual growth. We become healthy nourished plants in the house of our God.
Another image of the Lord came to me as I began to reflect on the huge trees growing along the rivers and streams all over His mountain. Isaiah spoke about the trees and longevity in Isaiah 65:22. He also said in Isaiah 61 that we are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. Trees last for generations. They remind us of the permanence of the Lord and His kingdom. He is stable, faithful and eternal. We can lean upon Him in difficult times. This “tree” can endure every storm. He is our strength in times of trouble.
Shining through the trees by the river, I saw the beautiful rays of the sun shining down throughout the valley. These rays speak to our hearts about the rays of His glory that shine down all around us. Malachi spoke of these rays of Glory in Malachi 4:2. He said that these “beams” or “wings” contain the healing power of God. Our God is a Healer. Everywhere His presence goes healing is the result. Today the beams of His glory are shining out from the face of Jesus. These healing rays are bringing hope and healing to our hurting world, they are bringing hope and healing to me and hope and healing to you .
Winding along the river and through the vines and trees I saw a path. Jesus said that He is that path (John 14:6) that is leading us to life. There are so many options and choices all of us are faced with every day. We can waste our life in the pursuit of worthless ambitions or wasteful lusts of the flesh. But, winding through every wilderness is this incredible path. This path is God’s beautiful plan for your life. Where will it lead? It will lead you on a great adventure. There will be mountains of victory and also the valley of the shadow of death. Each path is unique, created for your enjoyment and God’s glory. Have you embraced the Lord’s heavenly journey? There is a shining path in the wilderness marked out just for you. It is the path of life that leads to joy evermore.
As I looked up at the mountains, I saw a rocky crag. I was reminded of David’s words, “The Lord is my rock and my salvation. For David, those crags and crevices were his hiding places. He lived for many years hiding away as Saul pursued him in the wilderness. David saw those crags as a picture of the Lord, he saw the Lord as his rock of defense, his hiding place. All of us, sometimes, feel like we are on the run, being pursued by the enemies of our soul. This world can be a dangerous place. Many times there seems to be no place to hide. Have you found your hiding place? Have you found that rocky crag, that hiding place in the wilderness? Have you found Jesus, the rock of our defense. We can cry out like David, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”
Psalm 61:1-4 1Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 2from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 3for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 4Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
As I was leaving Maggie Valley on Saturday, I was struck by the surrounding nature of the mountains. They were literally on all sides of us. Of course this is another great picture of our Lord.
“They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth forever. AS the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people, from henceforth even for ever.” Psalm 125:1,2The Lord surrounds His people with Himself. HE is always there. He surrounds us with protection, life, love, help, joy, satisfaction, literally everything that pertains to life! Nothing is overlooked, nothing is forgotten. Today, you are surrounded, surrounded by love. Open your heart to Him. Let Him open your eyes to His glory. He is involved in every aspect of your life. He is involved with your yesterday, your today, and your tomorrow! As the mountains surround Jerusalem, the Lord is surrounding you.