“Praise the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness…The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of his hands…You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Psalm 150, 19, Isaiah 55:12
Today some of our PAYH young men, some alumni, some fathers, and some staff will leave the southernmost point in the continental U.S. in Key West, FL and bike 650 miles to Vidalia, GA. This is our annual PAYH Bike Challenge. We truly will appreciate you covering them in prayer as they ride. They will be riding in the sanctuary of the Lord. The striking beauty of the Florida Keys, the white sand beaches and blue waters of the Atlantic Coast of Florida and Georgia, and the palm trees clapping their hands in the ocean breezes never fail to remind us of the utter greatness of the Lord with a feast for our eyes everywhere we turn.
What do you picture in your imagination as you read the Psalmist’s call to worship, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name”? His courts? His gates? What, where are they? Though God once directed the building of a temple for the assembling of his people for worship, and his people still gather for worship in a great diversity of church buildings set apart for such purpose, the Word of God in many, many passages intimately link the worship of our God to his work of creation midst the cathedrals he has formed with his handiwork; cathedrals made of trees, mountains, flowers, rocks, seas, and skies. All of these call us to praise and thanksgiving, to conversation with Abba Father, to luxuriating in his presence, to abundance of thoughts of his infinite greatness suggested by all we see, by so much which inspires wonder, a kaleidoscope invoking mind and emotion in the knowledge and pursuit of him and him of us.
For those who have the Spirit of God within them, it is impossible to not see God in the work of his own hands. Personally, I do not understand the “thinking” of those without his Spirit who see no intelligent design behind what is observed in the universe, who dogmatically deny the existence of the Maker in their study and research. Their theories are incoherent with what is. Great leaps of illogic attend their constructs because the key of all that is is willfully denied. Such thinking is akin to forcing a round peg in square holes and insisting it fits. An infinite disappointment and inconsolable shock will shake them to their core when their eyes are opened to see the fallacies of their blindness to reality.
But far greater in their stupendous loss is missing the surpassing joy of fellowship with God in his courts, his sanctuary, his cathedrals of creation; to walk by his side in its incomparable beauty confirming to you who he is and who you are. Passages like Psalm 19 teach the inseparable link between the revelation of his creation and the revelation of his Son, the good news concerning salvation. Both General and Special Revelation are necessary and together draw us to God. We find no permanent joy in the creation apart from the Son by whom we know the Father.
Any experience like this bike challenge is an opportunity to seek God in his sanctuary. Walk (ride) with him in the midst of what he has made. Conversation with co-riders is restrained when seeking energy and air to pedal, but your eyes are open and your thoughts are fertile to engage the One who made you, who relishes your fellowship. Wherever you are today, engage your Father in his presence amid the works he has made and bless his name; Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is among you.” Think on this today, “He hems me in behind and before; he lays his hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to fully attain…I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139) Take in his works today with your eyes, your mind, your thoughts, and clap your hands for joy, as the creation around you in all its beauty joins in.
“This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears, all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.”
(1st verse of Maltbie Babcock’s hymn, “This Is My Father’s World”, 1901)
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