Morning Mercies

“But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23 ESV)

The fact that these verses are found in the middle of a book whose title, Lamentations, means “funeral songs” speaks volumes. In the midst of seemingly unbearable sorrow, Jeremiah never took his eyes off the Lord in whom he found hope and comfort. Even as the smoke was still rising from the ashes of Jerusalem, he chose to focus on God’s unfailing love, compassion, mercy, and faithfulness.

imageThese verses immediately sprang to mind yesterday morning as I gazed out my back door. Through the years, I have witnessed many awe-inspiring sunsets over the mountains to the west of our home, but rarely have I witnessed such a breathtaking sunrise.

My limited photography skills and equipment prevented me from adequately capturing the matchless beauty of the full moon nestled over the mountains with the morning mists settled in the valley below, while the first rays of the sunrise painted the sky pink as they kissed the peaks of the Blue Ridge. Nor are my writing skills adequate to convey the impact of that celestial scene on my heart.

In Psalm 19:1, David writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (NIV)  I am richly blessed to live where God’s handiwork is on constant display just outside my back door. On a cloudless night, I can gaze up at the stars and sense that our universe, like its designer, is mysteriously infinite and in many ways beyond my comprehension. And yet, as daylight approaches, scenes like this continually remind me that my Creator is also close, like an enveloping blanket.

While our world at times seems like it is coming apart at the seams, those first rays of dawn remind me every morning that I worship a God who is perfect in his love, infinite in his wisdom, sovereign in his control, and as faithful as the sunrise. How can anyone not trust a God like that?

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest; Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above; Join with all nature in manifold witness, To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.” Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm

The Closeness of God

“You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the tumult of the nations. The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” (Psalm 65:5-8) 

I love sunsets. Any of you who follow me on Facebook probably know that by now, given the number of sunset photos I have posted through the years. From the comfort of my deck I have a front row seat to the sun setting each night over the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west of my home in Western North Carolina. That view inspired the name for this blog, Ridgetop Reflections.

imageIt amazes me just how unique each sunset appears. Quite often they take my breath away and sometimes even leave me in tears. They never fail to remind me of the closeness of God’s presence. And I don’t believe it is a coincidence that the most awe-inspiring sunsets seem to appear when I most need to be reminded just how close God actually is.

In the Scriptures God reminds us over and over that he is always with us. When Moses felt inadequate for the task God assigned him, God reassured him “I will be with you.” (Ex. 3:12)  When Joshua felt unworthy of replacing Moses and incapable of leading Israel into the Promised Land, God challenged him to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified and do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)  When Jeremiah objected that he was too young to serve as God’s prophet, God declared, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” (Jer. 1:8)

The familiar words of the 23rd Psalm echo “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)  When God himself made his dwelling among us in the person of Christ, his name as foretold by Isaiah was Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), which literally means “God with us”. (Matt. 1:23)  And through the person of the Holy Spirit, God fulfills his promise to be with usalways, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

When you face the inevitable trials and heartaches of this life, take time to reflect on those promises from God’s Word. Remember that the God who created us and who made his dwelling among us in the person of Christ now lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Even in our darkest days, when sometimes he seems so distant, God is closer than we realize.

If you don’t currently have a sanctuary where you are able to just be still and sense his presence, I encourage you to find one and return to it often. As for me, I can’t wait to see the sunset he paints for me tonight!

“The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in his divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way.” – Brother Lawrence, The Practice of The Presence of God

Note: All Scripture references from the New International Version (NIV)