One of my favorite hymns is Ode to Joy. I love the triumphant melody and the reference to all of nature praising God. It inspires me to look for God in unexpected places, like the schoolyard beside my house.
When I do my morning prayers, I look out the window at a large oak tree in the schoolyard, which is nearly perfect in shape. Recently, I noticed it is pretty lopsided, but another tree behind it and to the right makes it look complete. It is not ashamed of this assistance. It is not anxious because it is not perfect. It does not compare itself to the other trees in the schoolyard. It accepts its condition without complaint.
Reflect for a moment. Does this describe how you feel about yourself? Are you guilty of comparing your inner self to others’ best moments displayed on social media? Give thanks that God made you in His image and likeness. Let Him be the source of your joy and your comfort.
Looking at the trunk, I can see scars from previous trauma. It has lost at least two large branches in the past. Despite the trauma, it remains deeply rooted in the soil but reaching for the sky, praising God by its very existence.
Many of us have experienced trauma in our lives. The trauma was slight for some, and for others, it defined their lives. Are we still reliving the trauma, or have we given it to God and rooted ourselves in His healing and love? Can we surrender our trama to Him? Do we trust Him enough to take care of the situation? Have we sought outside help to deal with the trauma? Letting it go is frightening, but it brings freedom and peace.
Have you looked around you lately? Are there trees and flowers you have yet to notice? Even amid the city, there are green spaces and living things. Perhaps a bird is nesting in the windowsill of your apartment building. It feeds its young, reminding us of God’s infinite care for even the most diminutive creature, including us.
Notice the wildflowers growing along the side of the highway. Many consider them weeds. The delicate buttercup flower sways in the wind, singing God’s praise with its translucent pink petals. It is modest in its appearance yet lavish in its praise. It is not a rose or a fragrant flower but beautiful in its own right. So are you.
A pair of birds are nesting in the cedar tree in my backyard. I cannot get a glimpse of them, but I hear them. The birds sing God’s praises at all hours of the day and night. If I turn on the light in the kitchen at midnight, they sing as if dawn is breaking on the horizon. Their unabashed joy is an example to me, showing me how to praise God at all times.
A butterfly flew past my window today. Its bright orange color is energetic. During its brief life, it flits from flower to flower, field to field. It completes its job of pollinating flowers without fanfare. Yet, it brings joy to many who see it, just as it did to me.
Look around you. Take in the beauty of your surroundings. Even the desert can teach us about God’s faithfulness in difficult circumstances. All created things have an innate beauty that we often overlook. Find the hidden beauty around you and give thanks to God for it.