And what a beautiful mess it was....
This is a photo of east side of the Carrizo plain, in the Temblor Range , about 50 miles due west of Bakersfield , California. The admin from our Tulsa, OK office sent this to me a few weeks ago and I was so struck by the beauty of this image that I saved it. I was cleaning out old e-mail messages this morning and came across it. Funny I hadn't gone back and looked at it again until today.
It brought to mind something that happened to me Saturday before last. Something that was unsettling, yet at the same time beautiful. Something I shouldn't have let slip to the back of my mind so easily. Something I've decided to share with you today.
I've always been a huge lover of nature. As a kid I was fascinated by bugs, and trees and all things outdoors. As an adult nothing fills me with greater pleasure and peace than sitting outside feeling the warmth of the sun and the touch of the wind on my face, marvelling at the wonder of creation. Simple things give me joy. The sight of a butterfly dancing through the air to land briefly on a flower, the smell of freshly cut grass, the song of a bird reaching my ears like the softest melody.
When I lived in MS years ago I would go to the ocean and walk out on the pier and just sit. I'd climb down on the rocks near the water and close my eyes, listening to the sound of the waves splashing against the rocks and just... BE. There's something so deeply.. I can't even think of the right words to describe it, but sitting, listening, smelling, just being alone with creation is, for me at least, like being as close to God as you can while still here on earth.
Saturday before last I was driving to my sister's house in Gulfport, MS. My niece Marley and my brother-in-law's little sister's birthday parties were that weekend. It was about 10am when I left Mobile to drive over. It's about a 45-55 minute drive. The weather was perfect, bright blue skies as far as the eye could see, the sun had warmed the air to a just right 72 degrees. I had the windows down, the radio up and all was well with the world.
As I was about half way there a song came on that I really like, "You Are Everything" by Matthew West. Something in the combination of the lyrics, the beauty of the day and my general happiness at spending the weekend with my niece became suddenly overwhelming and I began to cry. In that very moment I felt God with me, in me, around me, through me. I was so filled with love, joy, humbleness and an intense thanks that I knew God, that I'd been raised being taught about Jesus, that I was loved and accepted 110% as I was, faults and all by the most perfect Father anyone could ever hope to have that I couldn't hold it in. In the middle of crying I laughed and sang along with the song. I gave praise to God with everything in me, and it was BEAUTIFUL.
I wish I could say that that experience remained at the front of my mind all weekend ... I wish I could say I wasn't human just like everyone else and let the feeling I had in that moment guide every thought and action I had for the rest of the day, the rest of the week. I didn't. Now don't get me wrong, it was a wonderful weekend, everyone was happy, the parties went great, I had a fantastic time with my niece and other family as well, but sitting here now thinking back, I realize that it took no less than half an hour for the trivialities of life to find their way right back to the front of my mind.
I'm thankful for that moment, and I'm thankful for the picture someone sent me, that I forgot about. I'm thankful I forgot because "cleaning out" my e-mail brought it back to my attention, and the beauty of creation shown in that photo brought me back to that moment in my car, riding down the highway, totally immersed in the joy of God and all He is. I'm thankful for the opportunity to share that moment with you and I'm thankful that some, or maybe just one of you, will read this and take a minute to step outside, close their eyes, take a breath and a moment to be still and will remember or maybe realize for the first time just how beautiful life really is.
Here are the lyrics to the song playing that day.. you can hear the song on Matthew West's MySpace, you don't have to have a page to hear it, just click the title in the player on the right side of the page.
You Are Everything
I'm the one with two left feet,
standing on a lonely street,
I can't even walk a straight line.
And every time you look at me,
I'm spinning like an autumn leaf,
Bound to hit bottom some time.
Where would I be without someone to save me,
Someone who won't let me fall?
You are everything that I live for,
Everything that I can't believe is happening
You're standing right in front of me,
With arms wide open, all I know
Is everyday is filled with hope
'Cause You are everything that I breathe for,
And I can't help but breathe You in, and breathe again,
Feeling all this life within, every single beat of my heart.
I'm the one with big mistakes, big regrets,
And bigger breaks than I'd ever care to confess.
Ah, but You're the one who looks at me
And sees what I was meant to be,
More than just a beautiful mess.
You're everything good in my life,
Everything honest and true.
And all of those stars hanging up in the sky
Could never shine brighter than You.
You are, oh You are,
Jesus, You are,
You are everything