(“…one of these things is not like the other….”)
I have noticed that if I am going to be outside in the garden, I must apply myself to the task of becoming “acclimated”. Heat, sweat, cold, rain, bugs—they are all part of the “outside” experience, and I will make appropriate (and sometimes creative and/or humorous) adjustments and provisions according my level of commitment.
I have layered on the clothing to go out in the early pre-dawn hours, even before the birds wake up, when it’s only in the 40’s or so. This means long johns (to preserve my heat) and steaming hot tea in a pump thermos (to preserve the tea’s heat). I have used so much bug spray that I’m thankful I am no longer of childbearing age. I have set up a fan in the corner of the patio and even purchased an adjustable umbrella for when it’s hot, and when that isn’t enough, can be seen festooning said umbrella with kitchen towels draped strategically to provide shade from the inconvenient angle of the sun. There is just something healing and healthy for me when it comes to spending sizable quantities of time out of doors, and I consider it a bit of an adventure to finds ways to fulfill this need.
One weekend I was visiting my daughters in New York City. One of them had graciously found a studio apartment for myself and her sister, Jessica, who had flown in from Los Angeles. This delightful little domicile was located within one of the tiniest of NYC buildings, which means it was only seven or eight stories high. (In my town, the tallest building is maybe four stories, and is itself dwarfed only by the local grain elevator.) I was very thankful for the accommodations, and mildly amused that it was right next to a similar building that sported a huge “Hell’s Angels” sign outside—no one in their right mind would bother us that night! At any rate, since Jessie is not a morning person, I was determined to find a slice of time to myself in the quiet of dawn. But does such a thing exist in the “city that never sleeps?” Early in the morning, my Bible and I found ourselves determinately mounting the several flights of stairs to the rooftop, a place, I have come to learn, which is frequented by the veteran city dwellers due to the lack of space elsewhere. Sitting at a table that faced the Empire State Building, I could feel the occasional rumble of the subway far below, but even so the relative quiet and solitude was blissful. That is, until it started to rain. Not a typical Midwestern downpour, mind you, but a New York City drizzle, just enough to dampen my expectations, as well as my T-shirt. Looking around for suitable protection (mostly for the book more than for myself), I found an old blanket and threw it over myself, just enough so I could stay up on that peaceful outdoor rooftop a few minutes longer.
Creative resiliency is also an important aspect of our relationship with God. When we embark on our journey with Christ, He forewarns us that a certain “acclimation” is to be expected:
- The rumble of life under our feet, the sprinkles and downpours of sorrows and disappointments, are all part of staying in the game and embracing the identity that He provides. It is comforting to know that, regardless of how we feel, we are never alone in this adventure. There are those who have gone before us, and there are those who will experience the same things after us, and in it all, God has promised that He is with us, and will never, ever leave us alone. (1)
- Sometimes it takes creativity to believe in what possible goodness lies beyond what we can presently see (it’s called faith), or creativity to imagine that God has options we are not even aware of (it’s called trust), or creativity to rearrange and manage our lifestyles to spend time just getting to know Him better so we can increase our faith and trust, (it’s called an alarm clock…) If anyone needs a little nudge of encouragement in this direction, check out the account of a guy named Gideon. (2)
- We douse on the bug spray of wisdom and obedience which certainly makes us less attractive to the world’s ways, and sometimes doesn’t particularly smell so great to us either, at least at first sniff. This “world-repellant” comes in the form of doing what God says for us to do, (obedience is very activity oriented), and will probably afford us less popularity, less attention, but will also mean fewer uncomfortable bites! The sting of personal/spiritual/moral compromise is worth avoiding at all costs. (3)
- Sometimes God even sends His angels in the most unusual and unexpected forms, like big bikers with tattoos (gotta love ‘em!) to ward off my would-be attackers, or an old cast-away blanket to protect God’s words and promises that have been written on the pages of my heart from smearing off in life’s rain. (4)
Being outside isn’t always easy. In Missouri, they say that if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change. But it is well worth the effort to be surrounded by God’s creation, and even more so be surrounded by God’s graceful plan for our lives.
So grab your cap, and your can of Deet, and let’s get going!
- Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 12:1,2
- Judges 6 and 7 (One of my favorites!! I have to meet this guy in heaven!)
- Proverbs 8:1-14
- Proverbs 4:23, Hebrews 1:14 and Hebrews 2:1
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.