The gifts of the earth

Every January I pull a certain book off the shelf and give it another read, a good deal of underlining and margin notes emphasizing the author's words and rolling them in with my own over the years. If a classic is defined as something to return to, something always true in every age, Tozer has written a classic in The Pursuit of God. This January Tozer's words are reminding me that the pursuit of God, Who wants to be known and Who makes a way in His word and through His people, is not a small life of less, not a diminishing schedule or necessarily narrowed affections or tight restrictions. The pursuit of God is taking all of my life—the people, places, things and ideas I cherish most—and giving them more purpose by viewing them as the blessings of a life of pursuing God, not as necessities or rights or possessions.

On my best days, God is enthroned in my heart and everything else is His blessing, but external and unnecessary, un-possessed. On other days, I am spoiled for easy living and time is all my own and a fierce independence makes my heart a place of self-rule. I whine and complain. I see all I have not and miss the one thing I need.

The pursuit of God is marked with these ups and downs.

I have not prayed enough, read enough Scripture, been holy enough, or loved others enough to be as blessed as I am. I know the encouragement of the day is to tell ourselves I am enough, but I'm not. Or maybe I'm too much and the real problem is not my lack but the abundance of me. I don't need a mantra to make me feel better about myself though (and I'm not discounting those who recognize, in a biblical sense, that they are truly enough; that God sees their life as valuable enough to warrant Christ's blood on their behalf, and nothing they could do would make them more valuable). I simply need a mantra that reminds me that Jesus is all the abundance I need, want, could hope for; that there is no desire I truly have that He doesn't fully meet.

"It shall come to pass in that day that I will answer," says the LORD;

"I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth.

The earth shall answer with grain, with new wine, and with oil;

They shall answer Jezreel." {Hosea 2:21-22 NKJV}

The earth answers our need.

Because He created us, because we are human and known by our maker, God answers our need in ways we can grasp. He answers our desire for beauty with a world full of it, overflowing. Snow powdered on the treetops. Red berries weighting a bush into submission. Pink sunrises and orange sunsets bookending our days.

He responds to the hunger He created in us—physical and spiritual—with grain and new wine and oil, all coming from the earth. He fills our empty spots with everything too big to be contained in a single human, everything too great for a clay vessel.

We miss the earth's answers in our screens and our schedules, and the deep that calls most loudly is a dissatisfaction with the state of our hearts. We are drowning in the works of our own hands, waiting for a dopamine kick to fix us. We anticipate and get and are let down.

Anticipation can be the death of thankfulness in me and a straight road to disappointment. I hope for a thing or an event so much that the actual arrival of it can't help but disenchant. All my joy was found in the waiting, and grasping a thing longed-for takes that away—I got the thing, did the thing, saw the thing and now it's done. Over. What's next?

These highs and lows are normal. We will want snow and then have too much, want sun and then be too hot, plant a garden and grow weary of tending it. Yet when the snow melts and the sun hides and the garden is done for the season, we will anticipate their goodness again, knowing the earth gives seasons for these things.

Giving and taking, ups and downs, longing and thankfulness; we move towards eternity with our appetite whet for more. In the answers of the earth our anticipation is renewed, and in the pursuit of God, our blessing is God, Himself.