My two favorite seasons of the year are Spring and Fall. In the cycle of life, I think these are the two most refreshing seasons of the year.
Even though Spring doesn’t official begin until March 20th, God blessed us with Spring-like weather this past weekend. As I was enjoying the day, I thought about the many blessings that God gives His children, and two words from John 3:16 came to mind: He gave.
As I was tilling the soil in my garden, I thought about several things God has given:
He has given the warmth of the sunshine.
He infused flowers with their delicate fragrance.
He designed your taste buds, so they would be tickled by the flavor of food.
He engineered your eyes so they can see the beautiful landscapes of His magnificent creation.
He gave you ears, so you can hear the three greatest word that have ever been spoken: I love you.
The I love you verse of the Bible is John 3:16, and when you read it you discover the greatest gift that God has given: “He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life.”
Take a moment sometime today to give yourself a gift. The next breath you take, make it a deep one, and then pause to thank God for the beauty and fragrance of life. Then take about 4 more minutes, and listen to this brief and beautiful song.
You’ve probably heard the story. It’s the one about Adam, Eve, and the tree of knowledge, and it took place in the Garden of Eden. In an act of disobedience, Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit, and they were banned from and booted out of the Garden.
The myth of that Eden experience is that Adam and Eve ate an apple, but the Bible doesn’t specifically name what it was that they ate. I disputed the apple assertion earlier this year after I had purchased a tomato. It had such a deep red and luscious appeal that promised a taste bud-tingling-experience. I took it home, sliced it, and added it to a sandwich.
After I took one bite of this fine-looking tomato, I drew a deep theological conclusion. When God cursed the Garden, He must have also cursed a certain variety of tomato. I’ll call it the supermarket variety because they all have one dominant and pervasive feature: They are tasteless. There is no flavor to savor.
The dilemma of tasteless tomatoes is explained in part by author Mark Schatzker in The Dorito Effect. According to Schatzker, for the past 70 years commercial horticulturists have been focused on yield, pest resistance and appearance at the expense of flavor.
While store-bought tomatoes are no longer tasty, manufactured flavor has been added to Doritos and your munchies, so you’ll crave more. Schatzker says: “Synthetic-flavor technology makes bland ingredients attractive without supplying the myriad benefits of the real thing. The twin forces of flavor dilution and fake flavor have short-circuited the biological basis for mutable appetite . . . Our bodies learn to draw connections between flavors and the physiological responses they signal . . . We can seek out and find what we need, nutritionally, and stop eating once we get it”
Schatzker seems to suggest that it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature. I would add that perhaps we shouldn’t try to improve on the design of the Master Designer.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
I couldn’t resist the urge, so I took a peak. Even though I may never float it again, I still wanted to check the river levels on the Buffalo National River and reminisce.
Every time I paddled this river, I marveled at her beauty: The pristine water is framed by towering limestone bluffs that rise above the river below.
The first night out on the river was often the best because supper would be venison. As soon as I arrived at the campsite, I would put the venison strips in a plastic bag to marinate. By the time I had set up the tent, collected firewood, and started brewing the coffee, several hours had passed and the meat was thoroughly seasoned.
In the solitude of this magnificent wilderness, I found it easy to see the beauty of God’s creation. I also found it easy to reflect of His Word.
One evening after I had finished off the venison, I was reading Ephesians 1:7: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”
It occurred to me that being lavished with God’s grace is somewhat like marinating venison. When you encounter the grace of God and you are covered-up by its life-changing power, you are transformed:
You are holy because He is holy—I Peter 1:16
You can forgive because you have been forgiven—Colossians 3:13
You can be merciful because you have experienced the mercy of God—Luke 6:36
You can live a life of love because you’ve been blessed by God’s—Ephesians 5:2
The riches of God’s grace is more than a sprinkle of pepper and a dash of salt. When God lavishes you with His presence, you are redeemed, renewed, and refreshed, and you are a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Is it time to chill out? Do all of your technological conveniences have you tied in knots? Research by Microsoft has found that on an average day, most people will “send and receive more than 100 emails, check their phone 34 times, visit Facebook 5 times and spend at least 30 minutes communicating with other posters (Alex Soojung-Kim Pang).”
A day of such multitasking strains your brain, and it needs a break so it can rejuvenate. Researchers suggest there is evidence that a “nature break” may be the answer, and exposure to natural environments can offer restorative benefits.
Dr. Wallace Nichols believes proximity to water can lead to improved performance and reduce anxiety. Wallace also encourages people to take water breaks: “Consuming enough water is a requirement of healthy brain function. Even mild dehydration can affect the brain structures responsible for attention, psychomotor and regulatory functions, as well as thought, memory, and perception.“
All of this talk about water reminds of what Jesus said: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
After reading the importance of taking a “nature” break,” I’ve gained a fresh perspective on Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake . . .”
The “nature break” language of this Psalm may be one reason it’s a favorite of so many people. Next time you need a chill break, drink a little water, read a chapter out of the good book, and God might just “restore your soul.”