ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL
I write today with piles of markers, pencils, papers, and notebooks with left-handed scribbled words piled high on my desk. I’m neck deep in product development these days. To an outsider, my studio desk looks nothing short of an Alabama tornado or a Gulf hurricane – – but this is what I bring to the table today. So whatever you are bringing to the table, let it be there. I’m a full believer that God works in processes (and messy tables too!)
On Sunday morning my mom and I came across the same hymn. (I’ll let you in on a secret…hymns have been an anthem around here lately and we’re pressing into it. To be continued!) Mom saw this hymn on the ever lovely Instagram and I stumbled across it in Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor book. It’s an 1800’s hymn by Cecil Frances Alexander called All Things Bright and Beautiful.
Here she goes:
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful,
the Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
he made their glowing colors,
he made their little wings.
The purple headed mountain,
the river running by,
the sunset and the morning,
that brightens up the sky.
The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden,
he made them every one.
The tall trees in the greenwood,
the meadows where we play,
the rushes by the water,
we gather every day.
Having just come back from a trip to northern Pennsylvania, home of Lake Erie, it’s funny that we both came across this hymn on the same morning. It seemed as if a nod from the Lord reminding me to sit in awe of His creation. In a season of product development here at Winnefred Austin, these words are refreshing. It can be so easy to put pen to paper and forget to look up at everything around me. We all can get that way sometimes, right? But as I create, I am co-creating with God because God made everything! All things bright and beautiful, great and small, wise and wonderful – – He made them all!
Throughout this year I have been reading and re-reading Genesis 28 – – Jacob’s encounter with God at Bethel. Genesis 28:16 says,
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!”
Not only did God create us; He is always with us. No matter where we go – – even Jacob on his solo journey in Genesis 28 – – we are never without God. But as we set off putting pens to paper or whatever it may be, we often fall asleep to God’s presence and the wonder of His creation. We are not called to journey through life with our eyes closed! If I closed my eyes to finish a drawing, it would be a disaster in the end. We are called to be awake people. Awake to God’s creation – – the birds and their tiny wings. The sunrise and sunset – – the trees and gardens that grow. The merciful and wonderfully creative hand of God makes the world around us come alive every morning.
When Jacob woke from his night’s rest, the morning’s dawn broke with new revelation too. In that place, Jacob encountered God in a new way. While God was there all along, Jacob was asleep at the wheel. When he went to sleep the night before, he did not acknowledge God’s presence. But when he woke up, God reminded him of His presence and promise. So Jacob set a stone as a memorial marker and named the place Bethel, meaning house of God. He set the marker so he could remember this place and remember God.
A lighthouse marks a ship’s place in the water so it will remember how to find shore again. We need markers in our lives to remember God, too. Since He created everything and lives within us, we have banners marked in our hearts through the Spirit. As we go on through every step of life, God’s creation – – all things bright and beautiful – – are markers to remind us of His presence and promise. He creates and He lives.