At this time of the year, the full moon seems larger than life. There is a school with its large parking lot, running track and baseball fields ½ mile from our house. When we come home from Bible study in the evening, the moon is visible over this expanse of space, without the interjection of trees hampering the vision. It has been wonderful to stare at the moon, marveling at its orange-tinted hue when it is first visible and appears huge. Then, as it rises high in the sky, it seems to spread a glow of white light that blankets the land.
I realize that there is a scientific way of explaining the light, the coloration, the change in apparent size of the moon, etc. and I appreciate that we have gone such a long way in understanding our world. But, science is quite irrelevant when I see the full moon advancing overhead: I know it does this because God ordained it to do so, and it is awe-inspiring to me.
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
Psalm 8:3-4 ESV
These verses from David come front and center when we look at the moon and at the beauty of God’s creation. What is man, indeed? How is the Creator God mindful of mankind? He is the One who spoke all of our universe into existence by the power of His Word! More incredible to think of, this same Almighty God who existed before the universe was created and who is infinite, not only knows of human-kind, He knows ME, individually and personally.
Psalm 139 provides a listing of all the intimate details that God knows about each person on this planet. He knows:
When you sit down and when you stand up. – 139:2
The path you will take, when you lay down, all your ways. – 139:3
What I say even before I speak it out loud. – 139:4
His hand is on you and he hems you in. – 139:5
You can go nowhere outside of God’s sight or knowledge. – 139:7-12
Even in the lowest part of earth, far from heaven, God sees you. – 139:8
God is in the heavens and in the sea. – 139:9
No matter where you are, God’s right hand will hold you. – 139:10
Even darkness cannot hide you from God. – 139:11-12
God created you and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. – 139:13-15
God knew the number of our days even before we were born – 139:16
John Calvin said the following about Psalm 139:17-18 in his Commentary:
The truth is one which we would do well to consider more than we do, for while we may cast a glance at our hands and our feet, and occasionally survey the elegance of our shape with complacency, there is scarcely one in a hundred who thinks of his Maker. Or if any recognize their life as coming from God, there is none at least who rises to the great truth that He who formed the ear, and the eye, and the understanding heart, Himself hears, and sees, and knows everything.
So, the next time you look up into the heavens and see the full moon reflecting the sun’s light over the earth, remember Psalm 139.
A. W. Tozer [1897-1963] said:
“If we miss seeing God in His works we deprive ourselves of the sight of a royal display of wisdom and power so elevating, so ennobling, so awe-inspiring as to make all attempts at description futile. Such a sight the angels behold day and night forever and ask nothing more to make them perpetually satisfied!”
The God who formed us knows us and loves us, and gave His Son for us. Perhaps we should say that the moon is reflecting His Son-shine as it witnesses to us of God’s love and provision. Let us declare that which the Psalmist said:
“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Psalm 8:9 ESV
Father, when I consider Your greatness and Your marvelous creation, Your love and intimate knowledge of me, I can only fall on my knees and confess that You are God. O Lord, my Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
“Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.“
Psalm 33:8 KJV
There are times in our lives that we encounter something that is just too wonderful to fully appreciate at the time.
Consider some of the places that God has provided us on the planet – places that exhibit His power, beauty, majesty, omnipotence, just to name a few of His attributes that are represented in His created order.
Towering mountains. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” – Psalm 90:2 ESV
Consider the thundering waterfalls. “Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.” Psalm 42:7 ESV
Consider beauty and destruction combined, such as with volcanoes. When we were on Maui, in Hawaii, we traveled to the crater of Haleakala and watched the sun come up over the horizon. The crest of the volcano is over 10,000 feet high, so it was windy and the clouds were constantly changing as they flew over and passed the crater. While volcanoes can be deadly and can cause widespread destruction, they also provide silent witness to the power of God’s creative hand and the beauty of His majesty.
While God’s creation is majestic in scope, it is also awesome in its beautiful detail.
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” – Luke 12:27-28 ESV
Or, consider the birth of a child – we know the biological process that takes place. Some of us even know all the details of human anatomy and physiology that work together in the creation of that little one you hold in your arms. But, just describing the biological process of childbirth does not even touch the full impact of the birth of a little baby. The joy that the child brings to the parents; the marvel in the expression of the young sibling who now is the older child; the tears in the grandparents’ eyes as they look at the personification of their living heritage.
I am not so Pollyanna to think that this is the lot granted to each child born on this planet – far from it. Some children are born into a house that is far less than supportive and can even be abusive. But Scripture tells us that mankind was created in the image of God.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 ESV
Each person, even the smallest infant, is a creation of God the Almighty Creator and Sustainer who imprints His image onto the heart and soul of each one. The reason we cannot see God’s image in others is not because of a problem with the image of God, but rather it is a problem that we have because of Adam’s fall and the interjection of sin into the world.
Scripture tells us of God’s majesty like this:
“By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”
Psalm 65:5-8 ESV
What a marvelous God we serve. What a powerful and majestic God we serve. What a loving God we serve.
“But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”
Habakkuk 2:20 KJV
Today take the time to contemplate (or ruminate) on being silent before God. Think about His majesty and glory. Think about His intimate love for you and of the salvation that He has provided. Read the love letter that He has given us, His Word, the Holy Bible. Then, love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. Matthew 22:37.
Father, I thank You for showing us Your power, beauty and majesty through the natural creation you spoke into existence. I thank You for giving us Your Word and Your Spirit. that tells us what you want us to do, how we should live in Christ, and what your Spirit
“Happy birthday to you” was heard repeatedly in our family last week, and we had more than our share of birthday cake. For the first time in 11 years, we had birthdays for three generations all in one week. I was the eldest generation, my son was the second generation and one of my grandsons was the third generation. My husband duly noted that we would need 121 candles on the cake. So, rather than setting off all the fire alarms in the neighborhood, we opted for one votive candle!
But, those were not the only birthdays in the family. The Ruminant Scribe, Snapshots of God’s World and Word celebrated its second birthday this past week.
The first post to the site was dated April 15, 2015 and 216 posts have followed thereafter over the past two years. It has been my pleasure and privilege to write the posts, and I thank the Lord for His guidance and leading in so doing.
What has been a total surprise to me is the reach of the blog. I am certainly not as experienced as many and I do not have many followers, but that is fine with me. I am confident that the people who read the blog are those God directs to the site. Moreover, I appreciate and am humbled by each and every one of the men and women who have spent time with the blog. And I totally appreciate those who have provided comments or who have indicated that they liked what they read. Thank you so much for the feedback.
In reviewing the reach of the blog, I have been amazed at the countries identified as places from which various readers have come. In addition to the Untied States, visitors to The Ruminant Scribe blog come from 97 countries. The concept that people from around the world have read the blog, at least in some small measure, is amazing and humbling, and it prompts me to give my best as I represent my King and Savior to others.
I thank the Lord that in His providence He is providing the readership that He wants the blog to have. For that reason, I pray that each post is encouraging people no matter where they live.
All in all, it is to God that I give the credit for the idea of the blog in the first place, as well as for the scope and breadth of the blog. It is to God that I give all thanks for the desire to do this work and to reach out to others in this way. It is to the Holy Spirit that I seek counsel and direction in writing the blog and in preparing the posts each week. And it is to my Lord and Savior that I dedicate this blog with the prayer that His name will be glorified throughout the earth.
So, happy birthday to each of my family members, and happy birthday to The Ruminant Scribe. May God shower His blessings on each of us this coming year.
In recognition of the 2 year anniversary of The Ruminant Scribe, I am reposting the first blog post dated April 15, 2015: VACATIONS AND DIVINE APPOINTMENTS posted April 15, 2015
Sometimes we plan one thing only to find that God’s plan is a bit different than what we had intended. That was our experience when we, and another couple from church, flew to Anchorage, Alaska for an Alaskan train tour!
Day one of the tour was a train trip to Healy, Alaska where, the next day, we would board a bus for a 13-hour tour of the Denali National Park.
This is a view of Mt. McKinley [now known as Mt. Denali] from the train on the way to the national park. God’s handiwork was on display with mountains, streams, lakes, and wild animals that were everywhere to be seen. At lunch, we visited with a family traveling on a mission trip to an Eskimo village. We talked about our faith, churches, missions, and our tour day transformed into a personal time of worship and praise as we thanked the Lord for His goodness and power.
Then it happened – as we were preparing to get back on the bus for the return trip along the 92.5 mile road to exit the park (there is only 1 road in/out) – I fell down three steps onto a wooden deck. Not a long way, but it was far enough to severely break my left ankle. This ended our participation in the tour and it marked the beginning of a marvelous adventure with the Lord and an outpouring of love from Christians we did not know and who, even now, we cannot identify.
Fellow-travelers came up to me as I sat with ice bags on my ankle, and they simply touched my shoulder and said “we’re praying for you”. The mission family repeatedly said they were praying during the balance of the trip. One man who saw me fall said he was praying for healing and for my back and head, due to the severity of the fall.
The park ranger/EMT arrived and tended to my ankle, getting me into the first of three ambulances I would ride to the Park exit. He was a tender, caring young man, notwithstanding his bulletproof vest and sidearm (the ranger also is the law enforcement officer in the park). We spoke of God’s intervention and protection as it appeared that my back and head were not injured.
Over 5 hours after I fell, we exited the Park only to find that the clinic in Healy had a doctor but no x-ray available for treatment so clinic personnel called for a taxi to take us to the hospital in Anchorage (it was either that or Fairbanks as the closest x-ray facilities), and the office assistant promised to pray for healing.
The taxi driver was a wonderful Christian lady who had moved from San Antonio to Anchorage with her mother and sibling when she was very young. We had an incredible time speaking of the Lord’s hand in her life and in ours. We said we would pray for her children and grandchildren and she said she would pray for healing and successful treatment of my ankle. The 6-hour trip through the night was transformed from a mere taxi ride to a time of praise for our Sovereign God.
We reached the Emergency Room at Anchorage Regional Hospital 12 hours after my fall. The ER was empty and we were met at the door by a nurse with a wheel chair. They expertly treated my ankle, contacted a trauma orthopedic surgeon and made a doctor’s appointment for Thursday with surgery the following day. There, too, various persons gave encouragement and promised to pray for us during our time in Alaska. The flight home was scheduled for Sunday.
For various reasons we needed much more than merely medical assistance. For example, we had hotel reservations for that evening in Anchorage, but since we were on a train tour, we had reservations at different hotels at the various stops along the tour. It was obvious that our tour was over. Thus, we had no hotel room for the rest of the week before our flight home, and no rooms could be found in the Anchorage hotels since we were there at the height of tourist season. But God was in control.
The nursing supervisor saw us sitting in the hallway and asked if she could help us. She was able to arrange for us to stay at the Alaska House, the 7th floor of the hospital which was available for families of patients who could not get home due to the long distances involved in getting medical care in Alaska. (Remember, 6 hours away from the national park!) When we checked into the Alaska House on August 6, we found out that the program was being eliminated on August 30. God was in control, even over the contractor’s schedule so that the room was available when we needed it!
Multiple people we met offered assistance and said they would pray – the family on a mission trip, a minister friend of our son-in-law’s brother who lived in Anchorage, a young server at a neighborhood restaurant who gave my name to her mother’s prayer circle and then asked permission to do so, the counter clerk at the Subway in the hospital cafeteria, to name just a few. In short, what started out as a simple vacation turned into a series of “Divine Appointments.”
On Saturday, before our Sunday flight, we drove along the Seward Highway in an attempt to salvage some sightseeing during our visit to the state. The sky was overcast and there had been rain along the way. As we rounded a curve, we saw a beautiful landscape rainbow. The clouds were above the rainbow and the ground was beneath: it appeared to be hovering over the ground. Bill stopped the car and grabbed the camera, as we looked out the window in awe at the beautiful display of God’s handiwork. He took the picture and it appeared that the rainbow was around the next curve as well. We drove to that spot but it was not visible; when we returned to the place of this picture, it was gone.
When I saw the rainbow, my spirit soared. It was as if God had sent that bow in the sky to remind me that there is no place that escapes His presence and to also remind me that He was present in my accident, pain and confusion. Further, He was providing an illustration through His creation of His protection for me. Yes, I had fallen and broken my ankle; that is the rain cloud. But, He was between me and the cloud – His protection was covering me so that I did not receive significant back or head injuries. It was yet again further confirmation that He is in control and I am in His care, no matter how the circumstances may appear.
In Luke 12:6-7, Jesus said: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” David says: “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.” In Psalms 139:4. If you want to know whether God cares about you, just ruminate on these statements from Scripture! (Even I don’t know every word before it is on my tongue! Oh for the times that I have spoken without thinking of the words I was saying …, but I digress!)
When the rainbow disappeared, it was a reminder that God’s presence is always with us, even though it is not always obvious to us at the time. The rainbow did not need to be stationary for a long time to accomplish God’s purpose – it just needed to be visible when we rounded the corner.
Often we tend to look at our situation in our microcosm of life and our focus is limited to that which we see here and now. We work and are active in our assigned tasks but we do not see what God is doing elsewhere. Praise the Lord – He is alive and well and His church can be found all over the place, even in the “wilds” of Alaska. Praise the Lord that we had our eyes open to see His visible promise of protection. If we had been drowning in self-pity, we would have missed His beautiful presence. He knows where we are and what we are doing, and He will send His messengers to give comfort and reassurance to us, even if that comes in the form of a rainbow.
What my husband and I saw of Alaska was beautiful; but what we experienced through God’s Divine Appointments was enriching beyond measure. Praise the Lord!
I pray that no matter what you are going through at this moment, you will be encouraged by the knowledge that He will be your strength through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Open your eyes, you might just see a rainbow sheltering you from the storm clouds of life!
Father, two years after this was originally written, this is still my prayer. Thank You for loving us and for sending Your Son so He could prepare the way for us to live with You eternally, through faith in Him alone.
Do you remember the last time you were excited about something … I mean, really excited?
I came across this picture of my young grandson who was clearly excited about something that he saw. The focused expectation that is plastered across his face is priceless.
There are many events that trigger excitement in our hearts. A soldier returns from a long deployment. A student leaves from home for the first year at college. From the parents’ perspective, excitement reigns when that same student returns home. A young couple experiences the birth of their first child.
One example of excitement that we have on a daily basis is Snickers’ excitement to get into the backyard. Despite her diminutive height, She jumps higher than the door knob, with her tail wagging and her sister trying to stay out of her way!
In the Bible, and even today, a time of widespread excitement is the Passover celebration. It is the feast that reminds the people of Israel when God acted mightily causing Pharaoh to release them from bondage in Egypt. The night of the last plague, the people were to kill a lamb and put its blood on the door frame of their homes. Then, the angel of death passed over the country and killed the first-born in each home; but the angel “passed over” the houses that had blood on the doorway.
While Passover is a time of solemn remembrance, it is also a time of excitement. This was true even in Jesus’ day. The people were excited … on the day we know as Palm Sunday, they were going to Jerusalem to celebrate their deliverance from bondage.
Not only that, they had just found the One who they believed would be the Messiah, the One who would crush the dominance of Rome, and the One who would again lead the people, militarily, to a kingdom such as David had ruled over centuries before.
They were so excited that they put their garments on the ground and waved palm branches shouting “”Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” It was a parade with the only “float” being Jesus, riding on a donkey’s colt. Read John chapter 12 for the whole story.
In my mind’s eye, I envision the people jumping and screaming, rather like Snickers. Going full-out, no holding back, excited to the core.
When they were praising Jesus as King, they did not know that at the end of the week they would be screaming again, but this time it would be “CRUCIFY HIM” as Pilot stood wondering what he should do with this innocent man, Jesus.
Rather than taking the high road and releasing Jesus, Pilot succumbed to the demands of the people on that Thursday night. He let the mob determine justice and he, quite literally, washed his hands of the whole thing. He sent Jesus off to be crucified. Read Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the sinless Son of God, was put to death to pay for the sin that each of us has committed. Dr. R. C. Sproul says this about sin:
Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying “God, Your law is not good. My judgment is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.”
The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority. It is a revolutionary act, a rebellious act in which we are setting ourselves in opposition to the One to whom we owe everything. It is an insult to His holiness.
The week started with the people joyfully screaming in honor, blessing and allegiance to the King, the One riding into Jerusalem on a colt.
The week ended with the people again screaming but this time their malevolent demand was for the murder of this Man; He was not simply to be killed, they demanded that He be killed by crucifixion.
Sin and evil, Satan, appeared to have won the battle. Satan knew people disobeyed God – he caused Adam and Eve to sin in the very beginning. The pure Son of God was going to die this ignominious, excruciating and humiliating death, and Satan thought he would then have full sway in this world.
Instead, the pure Son of God voluntarily went to the cross, not in payment of any sin that He committed. Rather, He endured Calvary in payment for my sin, and for yours. By His death, He spanned and closed the chasm that had existed between man and the Holy God..
Because He lived a perfect life as required by God’s law, because He committed no sin, His death paid the price that the broken law incurred and that a just and holy God demanded. Sin could not be forgiven and forgotten unless God’s justice was satisfied.
This is what the cross accomplished. Justice was meted out and now forgiveness could be granted. Jesus Christ died … but Satan did not win the victory. On the first day of the week, the tomb was empty because Jesus rose from the dead. And, he lives today, even as He is in heaven interceding for each of us before His Father, the Almighty God.
Now that is something to be excited about!
Father, I pray that these words would be used to prick the hearts and minds of those who read it. I pray that Your Spirit would work in each of our hearts so that we would reflect our Lord to others. I thank You for the great give of grace and salvation that has been given to us through faith in Your Son.
Often at Christmas time we hear Handel’s oratorio Messiah with the announcement to Mary and the shepherds. “For unto us a child is born” and “Glory to God in the highest” and then the oratorio moves into the second and third parts with prophesies of the coming Messiah and affirmation that the Redeemer lives and is worthy to receive all power, and honor and glory. All the words are taken directly from Scripture.
The Messiah is really the story of Christ throughout His life with the focal point being His rejection, suffering, death and resurrection. It is, therefore, properly considered at this time of the church year, when Jesus’ passion, His sacrifice and His resurrection is center in our collective minds.
In Part II we are directed to “behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world”. This is a direct quotation of John 1:29, the words of John the Baptist in reference to Jesus Christ.
Then the alto sings Isaiah 53:3.
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
After describing the misery that the Lord would endure for our sin, the chorus vividly describes mankind, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 ESV
The tenor presents the crucifixion and resurrection, after which the choir erupts into a chorus describing heaven when Jesus defeats death and sin. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” Psalm 24:7 KJV
The oratorio continues by describing the mission of the Lord’s people, going into all the world preaching the gospel and then by telling of the rebellion to that Word. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” Psalm 2:1 KJV After questioning why, the soloists reveal the Lord’s response to mankind’s opposition:
“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. … Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Psalm 2:4, 9 KJV
At this point we hear the famous Hallelujah Chorus, proclaiming the power of the Lord God and that God’s kingdom will reign forever and ever. This too is from Scripture, specifically from Revelation 19:6.
“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
It is at this point that the audience rises in honor of the majesty of the music and of its message. For many of us, this is the crescendo of the oratorio.
After a recent presentation Parts II and III of the Messiah, I found it interesting to think about the placement of the Hallelujah Chorus. It is not at the end of the work, rather it comes immediately after describing God’s prevailing power over man’s revolt against Him and His Anointed One. This should be encouraging for each of us.
The Chorus certainly praises God for His authority over mankind, for the strength of His kingdom, in recognition of His power and of the inviolate guarantee that things that He has ordained will, indeed, come to pass. His providence will not be thwarted by anything that man or any other created being can do. In short, God wins! Hallelujah!
But, this is not the only instance of praise in the oratorio.
Part III of the oratorio begins with the soprano singing “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” Job 19:25. These words should bring praise to the lips of every believer in our Lord.
The substitutionary atonement of Jesus is told when the choir sings “since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.
And the hope of everlasting life is described when the bass sings “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV
The final song is one that is sung in heaven: “saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!’” Revelation 5:12 NKJV
Not only should we sing Hallelujah because God defeats sin and evil, we should continue our praise and worship of our God and of His Son by acknowledging and praising Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, for His work on the cross, for His atoning death and resurrection for us, for He alone is worthy to be praised.
Here is a presentation of the song “Worthy is the Lamb” as found on the album Glory to the Holy One, words by Dr. R. C. Sproul and music by Jeff Lippencott.
I am including the text of the words for your reference:
The veil of heaven opened wide The scene was clearly set John saw a scroll writ either side Where seven seals were met With booming voice the angel said To now unseal the scroll But none was found to meet the task Not even one lone soul
Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb
Worthy, worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Convulsed with tears and broken heart John’s hope was now assailed “Weep not,” the elder counseled him, “A Lion has prevailed!” No lion came to take his claim No beast of royal reign Instead there stood a bloodied Lamb Like one who had been slain
Ten thousand times, ten thousand more The host of heaven cried All blessing, honor, glory, and pow’r To Christ, the Lamb that died
Christ the Lamb, who was slain
Father, during this time of the year when we consider the Passion of our Lord, I can do nothing other than fall at the foot of the cross in recognition that He has taken my sin upon Himself and I have nothing to bring other than a broken and contrite heart. May my life reflect praise for my Lord and my King to whom all glory and honor belongs.
In my previous post, I spoke of some of the adventures we had in Tillamook County, Oregon several years ago. I did not include one of the most interesting aspects of our visit, specifically it was having the opportunity to get up close and personal with The Octopus Tree.
This tree is located just a few hundred feet from the Cape Meares Lighthouse. It is a massive Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) that has multiple monikers, including: The Monstrosity Tree, The Candelabra Tree, The Council Tree and The Octopus Tree.
The tree is certainly not hard to miss – it has a 50 foot base, it reaches upward over 100 feet. Its most incredible characteristic, however, is that it has no central trunk! Instead of growing straight up from the trunk, the limbs extend horizontally from the base as much as 16 feet before turning heavenward. This gives it the appearance of an inverted octopus.
It is impossible to determine the tree’s actual age because, to do that, we would need to cut it down and examine the rings. No sense in destroying such an incredible living thing simply for that purpose. But, it is believed to be 250 to 300 years old, which would date the tree at the time when the Native American Indians lived in the area. In support of this theory, rumors exist that the Octopus Tree got its shape from being used to hold their canoes with their dead in them. In other words, it is believed that the tree was a sort of burial site or a site used for sacred purposes.
The tree’s limbs towering overhead are beautiful in their strength and dignity. It would appear that the tree is thriving, notwithstanding its unique formation at the base.
For more information I would encourage you to look at the following websites provide a great deal more information about Tillamook County, Oregon. I would then encourage you to visit the area itself.
Beside from being an interesting place to visit, what does the Octopus Tree have to do with me? Or with you?
The Octopus Tree provides us with an example of God’s creation extolling His greatness, even if distorted or disfigured through time or by the acts of others.
Paul says this about the condition of His creation after sin entered and broke the relationship between the creation and the Creator:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
Romans 8:19-22 ESV
When sin entered the world, everything changed. Instead of love reigning and instead of walking in fellowship with God, mankind now spoke of hate and walked in opposition to His Creator. That continues even to this day. A brief look at the news headlines confirms that the world is in the grips of sin and that evil rules almost without opposition.
How many of us have been abused as children; have been in destructive relationships; have been addicted to drugs or alcohol or have endured any of a multitude of other addictions? How many of us have been in poverty, have been hungry, have been sick and hospitalized? How many of us have been subjected to these conditions because of the actions of others?
That is the story of The Octopus Tree. It was misshapen and became a tree unlike any of those surrounding it in the forest. Whether forces of nature changed the tree’s shape or whether it was the result of being used in some sort of religious rite, the result was disfiguring of the beautiful tree. But it still stands, growing in God’s sunshine, honoring the Creator by reaching to the heavens.
So to, when we have been subjected to hard times, trials and the evils in our world, we may well become misshapen, scarred, and have hurts that are too deep to even mention to our loved ones. We know they are there nonetheless. No matter what has happened to and/or through us, we can still stand in the grace and power of our God. We can honor our Creator by looking to Him, reading His Word, surrendering our will to Him and living for Him as guided by the Holy Spirit. We can grow in His Son-shine, the Light of the world, Who shines on us and infuses His light into us so that we then can brighten the darkness we find around us.
You can be The Octopus Tree in your neighborhood. If you are misshapen and scarred, that adds character and strength to your witness of God’s goodness, love, mercy and grace. Share your witness and the Word with those around you – God will use it for His purposes, you can be assured of that!
By all means, if you are in Oregon, take time to visit Tillamook County. Open your eyes and open your heart and hear your Creator speak to you as you see the sights and hear the sounds around you, both in Oregon and wherever you call home.
Father, I pray that You would empower me as I live my life, scarred and misshapen though I am. I pray that I would bring You honor and glory and that Your Word would be on my tongue as I spread Your truth to others.
On one of our trips out West, we drove up the Oregon coast and found that there is much to see and do in Tillamook County. For example, you can take a tour and taste incredibly delicious cheese at the Tillamook Cheese factory.
A marvelous sampling of their cheeses prompts purchases of the goodies, as well as investigation into the stores at home where we can acquire the cheese without traveling across the country! In fact, I would love to enjoy God’s creation right now by having some Tillamook cheese!
A real treat awaits the traveler because the Oregon coastline itself provides beautiful images of the ocean with the waves breaking upon rocky shoreline.
Another place to visit in Tillamook County is the Cape Meares State Park which boasts the Cape Meares Lighthouse. A wide asphalt trail goes from the parking area, through the forest, into the clearing with the lighthouse directly ahead.
The lighthouse is 38 feet tall, not exactly stellar height for a lighthouse. In fact, it is the shortest lighthouse in Oregon. But, it sits at the coastline on the top of a cliff making its effective height 223 feet above sea level. So despite its own short stature, when the light was operating, it could be seen for 21 miles.
Beside from being an interesting place to visit, what does Tillamook County, Oregon have to do with me? Or with you?
I think it provides us with an illustration and/or lesson for our life and our Christian walk, especially when we focus on Ephesians 2:8-10.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
The lighthouse was built for a purpose – it was to warn mariners that they were approaching the shoreline and it was dangerous to come too close. It was to provide navigational assistance, and it saved lives as a result of its light shining far out over the water.
Notably, it did all this while being only 38 feet tall. Its effective height did not come from itself, rather it came from the terrain on which it was placed – the cliff was high and from that vantage point, the little lighthouse could be seen for 21 miles.
Paul says that we have been saved through grace by faith alone. We had nothing to do with securing our salvation from sin; Jesus Christ did that atoning work on the cross for us. And, we did nothing to deserve the atonement that He provided. It was a gift of grace – not based on our work, our reputation, our finances, our stature in the community, our anything.
The reason for this gift is stated in verse 10 – we were created by God in Christ for good works that God had prepared for us to do long before we were born.
God is sovereign. He is in control of our world and all that is in it. His will, His purpose, will be accomplished and mankind cannot thwart it. In Concise Theology, J. I. Packer says:
“The assertion of God’s absolute sovereignty in creation, providence, and grace is basic to biblical belief and biblical praise.” [Sovereignty, God Reigns at page 33.]
One of the best descriptions of God’s sovereignty came from a pagan king after a lesson God provided to him.
“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?“”
Daniel 4:34-35 ESV
The little lighthouse had a job to do and it was able to do it because of strength that was not its own – it was based upon the strength of the mountain on which it was built. We were created by God and saved from our sin by Jesus Christ so that we could do the work that God preordained for us to do all for His glory and His purposes through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 ESV
We have no strength in our own self to do anything of eternal, lasting value for God. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to do God’s work in the world.
Am I serving His purpose, the good work that God had preordained for me to do? Am I working for the Lord through my own power and for my own reputation or am I relying on Him and the Holy Spirit to work through me for the glory of God? Am I refusing to shine because I am only of modest stature, or am I willing to shine my brightest for my Lord and let the Holy Spirit magnify the light so that it shines where He wants it to go?
Father, I give You honor and glory for Your sovereign love and mercy, grace and power that was shown by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I pray that You would give power to these words and that they would accomplish that which You desire, through Christ Jesus I pray.
One of the things I love to do while we are camping is to sit outside in the evening/night and listen to the sounds of nature while gazing up into the heavens. Viewing the stars, which are hidden by the city’s lights at home, is an incredible privilege. Watching the sun set in the earth’s inexorable travel around it is mesmerizing to me. Each second of descent below the horizon brings new colors and new beauty.
Scripture exhorts us to praise the Lord, In fact, it further exhorts even creation to praise God.
“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!”
Psalm 148:3 ESV
“The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.”
Ecclesiastes 1:5 ESV
“And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.”
Genesis 1:16-19 ESV
Next time you are outside, whether at sunrise, daylight, sunset or night, look at the heavens and praise the Lord for His glorious graciousness in giving us our beautiful world.
Here is the song “For the Beauty of the Earth” as composed by John Rutter and recorded on the album Gloria – the Sacred Music of John Rutter. Let the beautiful tones of the hymn embrace you as you consider the glorious beauty of God’s creation.
“The fear [reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”
Psalm 111:10 NASB
Father, thank You for making Your creation so incredibly beautiful in its majesty as well as in its finite detail. I pray that my life would reflect the love of my Savior as the moon reflects the sun. And may I praise Your holy Name. I ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.