I went for a walk yesterday and paid attention to the birds. The fairy-like flutter and zoom of six hummingbirds captivated me. I noticed the stately and intimidating silhouette of a Red-tailed hawk perched atop a dead Cottonwood tree. I realized innumerable Grackles and doves populate the gray sky, fences, wire lines and tree branches. And I saw a mockingbird sitting alone on the tip of an enormous Organ Pipe Cactus.
Because I set this week apart as a sort of sabbath, taking the entire week off work to intentionally rest my soul in God, I took a nap and awoke refreshed. I walked outside and felt the sun warm my skin in the chilled air. I watched a silky, black male Grackle sing in response to the song of another bird on a tree down the way. I sat outside with my goats for a while and noticed our rooster showing our young hens the nesting boxes, as though to say, “This is where you lay your eggs.”
Monday night in my church community group we talked about Ephesians 1 and how so many of us feel the verbiage of “spiritual blessings in heavenly places” is unattainable, ethereal, churchy. We confessed our lack of thankfulness and awareness that leads to wonder. We ascend with our minds to the truth of Jesus being a blessing beyond our imaginations, like trying to capture a cup of water by standing under the Niagara Falls. But though we have a decreased capacity, we long to experience the reality of this truth in the here and now.
Today after my walk the thought occurred to me, maybe those spiritual blessings in heavenly places aren’t so unreachable. Maybe we’re surrounded by them.
Jesus said God showers his goodness on the just and the unjust.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have?– Matthew 5:44-46 CSB
As I think about my insatiable appetite for faithfulness; my desire to live and love faithfully, I wonder if one of the spiritual blessings in heavenly places is noticing what the Psalmist calls, “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.Psalm 27:13 CSB
The goodness of the birds, in all their variety, color, shape and song. The goodness of the warm sun, and cool rain. The goodness of hens laying eggs and afternoon naps. The goodness of breath. All of these and more have become like white noise to us. We don’t notice. But they are tangible spiritual blessings of God’s goodness and faithful love.
Every morning when the sun bursts into the night with gold, red and purple light, God shines his faithfulness on everything and everyone he has made, whether we respond to his love or not.
God is extravagant in his love for us, always giving us good. The spiritual blessing of his goodness and faithful love is in the heavenly places, yes. But if we’ll notice, it’s also singing in the trees and in everything he’s made.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love. The Lord is good to everyone; his compassion rests on all he has made. All you have made will thank you, Lord; the faithful will bless you. -Psalm 145:8-10