There seems to be a magic to these longer June evenings, where the light stretches long and we let the kids stay up a little later just to savor it. This is our last summer before we start schooling, and it is sobering a little. I was reminded earlier this week that we only have 18 summers with our children. I only have 13 left with Phoebe. I read these words by Ann Voskamp earlier this week and brim with tears. Soon I will be on the other side of all of these busy childrearing years. And so I make plans and ideas to really enjoy this summer together, most of them simple. And the laundry overflows, the bills pile, the decisions need to be made, and the headlines scream news that breaks my heart and makes me feel helpless.
And we have dinner together as we usually do, and I laugh as I look over to see Noah pushing buttons on his pretend phone. We have a “no phones at the table” rule, we remind him with twinkling eyes. He says he is “just checking the Bible,” already wise to the powers of persuasion.
They bathe and get in their jammies, and then beg us to go out for a walk. We relent, and I grab my camera as we head out the door. Phoebe carries a bucket to collect her treasures (whatever flowers, pinecones, and leaves that catch her eye). We head down to our little neighborhood lake to check on the new baby goslings, and are happy to see momma duck and all 8 of her ducklings. We tell the kids to sit down and be quiet so we don’t scare them away and much to our surprise, momma duck brings all her babies right up the hillside to us. They are peeping quietly and pecking around on the road and then promptly head back to the water. It is such a sweet moment, all the children hushed in wonder. It is as if momma duck wanted to show off all her babies to us. This will be our third summer in this neighborhood and the first time there has been so much wildlife at the lake. It provides a lot of opportunities to teach and observe and then go find library books and explore topics and questions further.
And I quiet my soul and praise God for the way He provides perspective. My soul hungers for wilderness places, even ones as tame as our little lake, because I remember, I see again. Getting up into the high places far from the noise of machines and man, as my husband and I did recently, gives perspective. I see the city and houses lying far below, tucked into the hillside and valleys and I wonder at God’s perspective. How small we all are! How tiny our little homes and streets and lights and city buildings! In the grand wide world, smaller still. But then to get knees down in the dirt of my own plot of ground and wonder at how much is going on here without my involvement or help or notice — fiddleheads unfurling, birds finding food and shelter, trees growing leaves again, bees pollinating, ducklings hatching. What a vast bounty is here, teaching me of the abundance of God through the incredible diversity and variety of creation. The species of trees and flowers that I cannot even name or identify, the rain that falls on the mountain peaks dripping through the mossy ground into springs that form streams of water cutting down the valley and crevices, nurturing it all, slowly finding its way into my kitchen sink.
God is above it all. God looks on it all. God sustains it all. God does not need my help in order to accomplish it all. This land is a loud song of His abundance. His creativity. His ability. His goodness. His control + sovereignty.
This land is a loud song of my smallness.
These are good things to remember.
And maybe you need to remember, too. Even a small walk in your neighborhood or a nearby trail with the intent of noticing the small things, the hidden things that are growing and living without a hint of your involvement, can be helpful. It can help loose the tight bonds of worry and fear and self-sufficiency, to a joyful restful dependency on a good God.
The laundry, the gritty floors, the decisions, the finances, the needs and the headlines: it all matters, and I am responsible to be a faithful with what He gives me, busy working. But He holds me together. It is all falling apart, but He holds me together. He holds you together.
Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.