A Blessed Autumn Day

It was the sort of day I like.Well, to be honest, I like many different sorts of days, but today it was raining in Chicago, the leaves are about half-off the trees, it’s 24 hours from Halloween and I get to hear a band I really like (Leper) tonight.My wife is the most beautiful person or thing I’ve ever laid eyes on, and as most reading this will know, guys are especially drawn by beauty… fact is, she’s just a knock-out and I regularly thank God I can still see fairly well, ha!! What a gift she is to me! But her attitude toward Jesus, His Word, our family, the Church and our local church community is so amazing and good… I’m so blessed and have been given the grace to know it. Whew. I thank God for His goodness to me, I surely haven’t earned nor do I deserve one bit of it. Grace indeed.Last night my wife and I enjoyed one of our grandsons celebrate his sixth birthday. It was a bang-up party and he, his parents, brothers, friends and a good number of parents all laughed,  smiled and had a great time. This morning I was able to help one of my daughters and one of my other grandsons get to a doctor’s appointment for a routine checkup, and all is well.It’s also a great day in that I’ve been blessed in reading a book by Peter Maiden called simply, “Discipleship” with which I track on so many levels.Further, walking outside my office window is a quiet but very committed bro. in Christ whom I’ve watched soak up the Spirit and Word of God like a sponge for the past few months. Very encouraging to me.A good friend who built me a wonderful electric guitar phoned yesterday, leaving me a voice message as he was walking out to his tree-stand with bow in hand. It’s deer season, one of my favorite times of the year. More on that in a moment, but don’t freak out vegans and non-hunters, there’s good stuff coming if you’ll hang in there for a bit :)Beyond all this, another good friend who built me the most magnificent acoustic guitar I’ve ever had the pleasure to play had time to chat on the phone today, and though he’s had a rough go with illness, there is light at the end of the tunnel, he’s doing much better and we had a great chat about the Lord.If the Lord wills, the rain will pass tonight and the fields will dry up enough for another grandson’s soccer match tomorrow, which I will proudly take him to and attend. If not, we can at least kick a ball around together in a dry indoor place available to us.Are you noticing anything about any of this?The obvious is that I have an amazing family, friends and church all of which I’m deeply grateful for. What may not be so obvious is that it’s all about a life of community, not independence.Then I want to say that the glory of God appears often to me in autumn as I’m out in the woods, sitting or quietly, slowly moving for hours on end, in fairly silent surroundings. But even there I’m never alone.To be sure there are a lot of animals: deer, foxes, coyotes, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, lots of other birds and mammals. I’ve seen plenty of skunks but thankfully never had a run-in with one yet… Hallelulia!But I’m not alone because the Lord is continually with me.Yet in those times when I’m so removed from people, often sitting under a tree above a creek bottom, nearly motionless, just listening, watching, waiting, I may or may not see the game I’m hunting but I tend to pray and even sing inwardly. Songs often accompany me while I’m in the woods. Many of them are praise and worship songs in all sorts of styles. Some I’ve heard, some are made up on the spot, just between God and myself.I have regular and often lengthy times of prayer and worship in those moments and places, and they are memorable.It’s understandable that some wouldn’t be at all comfortable taking the life of an animal in the wild, but perhaps you’d believe me when I say the anticipation of simply seeing one pass by is itself really exciting and fun.Anticipation is a huge part of the thrill- and I have asked myself if I feel the same deep sense of longing, joy and excitement about meeting with my heavenly Father. Sometimes yes, but sadly and honestly, sometimes no!And yet every autumn about this time I become almost child-like in the excitement about getting out into the beautiful woods again, among the trees, leaves, wind, rain, snow, on top or nearly at the bottom of ridges, stalking through from tree to tree, listening, watching, trying to catch any sense of movement.Often I simply watch, smile and count the seconds by trying to figure how long a particular animal or for example, an owl, will stay near me when it has just landed on a tree limb.I rarely go without a camera and love to take pictures.A couple years ago I woke up with thick snow on the ground. The night before had been quiet and calm and the snow was a total surprise. What cool pics and what a beautiful morning as dawn began to peek through the dark woods, soft, huge flakes gently falling, the snow itself lay with that subtle blue hue. Almost immediately deer began to move, bucks chasing does, a mother with two fawns moving through my immediate area. But it was the glory of God moving in my life that morning that made them and the experience so special.Family, children, grandchildren, friends in Christ, God revealing Himself in and through all that He has made, the interaction of living things in nature, the elements of wind, rain, snow, woodlands, all of these are fully gifts.Thanksgiving will be here soon.

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