Earth’s crammed with heaven.
And every common bush aflame with God.
But only those who see, take off their shoes.
The rest just sit there and pluck blackberries.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Paul Dennis sent me this quote a few days ago. And it reminded me of the premise of Eugene Peterson’s great book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. In it, Peterson explains that Jesus Christ is at the very center of everything—every single thing that has ever happed, is happening, and will ever happen. Everything that was, is, and is to be is because of the Son of God. Everything that happened before the Incarnation was pointing toward Christ. And everything since that moment is because of Christ. Peterson writes that Christ is “behind and in” all of living creation. And he states that “Jesus is the dictionary in which we look up the meaning of words.” Everything around us exists in and through and because of the power of Christ.
As for recapturing the wonder we used to have about our world and our place in it, nothing works better for me than experiencing it through my daughters. They never cease to be amazed at the things they see and smell and touch and taste at the zoo, at the park, down by the creek, or on the short walk from the driveway to the front porch. I’m assured of at least one excited shriek of delight from one of them every time we’re together. They find the greatest pleasure in the simplest things.
And it helps to remind me that every single thing we experience is given to us by our God. The yellow butterfly that Carley can’t quite catch was sent to our backyard by our Father to make me smile. The chimpanzees that make Valerie laugh were created by the Creator for me. The thunder and lightning that cause Whitney to jump in my lap are gifts from above.
Peterson says we should live this wonderful life with all its experiences and gifts and wonder with Christ. Our lives should not be a performance for Christ, but a life lived with him. And as a minister of the Word of God, I’ve got to try to get people to see the same thing. The Son of God is present in every single breath we take and in everything we see and do. And an increased awareness of that will strengthen our faith and increase our joy as his followers.
I just started last night reading another Peterson book, Working the Angles, on the three fundamental, inescapable daily practices of the preacher upon which every single thing the preacher is called to do is built: fervent prayer, reading of Scripture, and giving spiritual direction. His premise is that preachers can fake all three of those things and still be respected and regarded and highly paid as great gospel preachers. The introduction and the first 43 pages are gold. I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you on all of this next week.
There are 69 days left until football season. And #69 on the all-time jersey number countdown is Denver Broncos great Mark “Stinky” Schlereth. Schlereth won three Super Bowls as an offensive lineman, one with the Redskins and two more with Denver. He was the first ever Alaskan-born player in the NFL. He actually played both ways—on the offensive AND defensive line in college at Idaho. And now he works as a very popular football analyst on ESPN TV and radio. But the thing that distinguishes Schlereth and gets him on my list is his medical record.
28 surgeries plus a kidney stone procedure.
That’s a record.
20 of those surgeries were on his knees—15 on his left knee, five on his right. He’s had surgery on his elbow, back, ankle, and one for a nerve disorder. And they never really slowed him down. He played a Monday night game about six hours after the kidney stone procedure. He lasted 12 seasons and played in 156 games, about twice as much as the average player with no surgeries!
But don’t expect me to write about his nickname, “Stinky.” You have to look that up on your own.