Reflections

“No man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves.” (John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion).

I recently stumbled across this quote and have been stuck on it ever since. Every time I start looking at who I am, I can’t help but see my Creator. He is the one who made me. He is the one who knows everything about me. I see Him in every aspect of me.

First of all, I think of God when I consider the physical me. I have the same thoughts as David did in Psalm 139:14: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Who am I? A 5’10” woman with curly brown hair and blue eyes—and God has given me each of those attributes to make me Grace, His chosen child. Before the world was even created, God knew who I was and what I looked like because He lovingly chose me! That gives me goosebumps! How great a God I serve! He created me perfectly so I can glorify and serve Him my whole life long. I can even say God created me just to remind me that He is God, the Holy One who deserves all praise!

Then I look at the people I am surrounded by. I have a godly father and mother who do all they can to make sure I am raised in the fear of God, and because of that, I am brought to my knees to thank my Father in heaven. I have ten younger siblings to be an example for and to help along this pilgrim path that we all are on. Being the oldest of a large family often reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3: there are often times of weeping, times of laughing, times of getting, times of losing, times of loving, and times of hating. Yet I am reminded in all these times that God put me in these situations for a reason, and that is so I can learn to glorify Him at all times. He gave me all my siblings because He loves me and knows what is best for me. My God works everything for my good! So once again I am moved to consider God by examining myself.

An investigation into my life reveals how poorly I actually measure up to all of God’s requirements. I sin constantly, and I even go back to sins I know are wrong! I struggle with loving my siblings all the time. I make excuses so I don’t have to do personal devotions. I complain about people in my college classes. I can surely say with Paul that I am the chief of sinners. Now after this investigation, I could just continue looking at myself and have no hope because I am a such a lawbreaker. However, I can (and not only can, but must!) look to God and praise Him, even in all my sins! Because He loves me so greatly that He punished His Son on the cross to satisfy His wrath. God has forgiven each and every one of my sins and does not even look at them anymore because Jesus paid for them all! What an amazing reality! What an amazing God!

I can do nothing after these considerations but praise God. Praise Him for eternity! I am nothing without Him. I can do nothing without Him. I would have nothing without Him. I owe my Father everything, and so I will glorify and serve Him with my whole being for my whole life.

I know that these thoughts are mine, and tailored to me. However, every single person that reads this should do the same thing. Survey yourself, and you will discover that you will see God in every aspect of who you are. It is amazing to realize that God has directed and is directing everything in your life…for your good!

Grace Medema

 

Though Foaming Waters Roar

I recently had the opportunity to go white-water rafting on a river in West Virginia. While riding through the roaring rapids of the river, I could not help but be struck by the power of the water. Sitting at the front of my raft, I met the huge, rolling waves head-on as they towered and crashed over me. All around me, foamy water swirled as the powerful current rushed dangerously. This experience brought to mind many Scripture passages about the power of the water and seas and prompted me to ponder the awesome power of the One of Whom it is said that, “the sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:5). God “rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, [He] stillest them” (Psalm 89:9).

Psalm 107:23-31 describes the experience of those “that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters” and encounter the power of the stormy seas much as I was reminded of it a few weeks ago. When they “see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep,” who “commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof,” the magnitude and strength of the waves is enough to strike fear in the hearts of seasoned sailors: “They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. But when they acknowledge the One who created this great power and “cry unto the Lord in their trouble, he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.”

“Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:31).

Not only should we see the power of God in the strength of the seas and be prompted to praise Him as the great Creator, but this truth contains a great comfort for the child of God. Not only has He created the stormy seas and given the swirling current its power, but He controls its seemingly uncontrollable depths. He has “placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof… roar, yet can they not pass over it” (Jeremiah 5:22). His is the voice “that even the winds and the sea obey” (Matthew 8:27). He is “the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared” (Isaiah 51: 15). That same sovereign God is our Father. We are His precious children, and He has promised to control all things for our good.

This is especially comforting when we encounter the storms of life. Often fears and troubles swirl about us like a foaming current, threatening to pull us under into the depths of despair, never to return to the surface. We can flail about with all our strength, trying to fight the waves and save ourselves, but we will find that we are weak and helpless. But when we cry to God, He will save us. His alone is the power to bring us through such trials and calm the stormy seas. He has the power to dry up the entire sea so we are once again standing on dry ground, or He may choose to part the waters and lead us through with towering walls of water looming over us. And sometimes it is His good pleasure to allow us to struggle in the storm for a time, but He will always be there, holding us up with His almighty hand, never permitting us to drown.

So whenever you are experiencing the stormy seas of life and you are tempted to despair, turn to the One who has placed those trials in your life. He alone is the Rock to whom you can turn. He is your refuge and strength.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof… The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:1-3,7).

Anna Langerak

Why Do the Birds Sing?

Psalm 148

“Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights.Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: 10 Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: 11 Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: 12 Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: 13 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. 14 He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the Lord.”

All of creation praises God together in Psalm 148. This is more than just God’s children singing to Him. It includes the weather, mountains, trees, and animals. Each element of creation uniquely gives praise to God. Verse 13 gives the reason: “Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.” God alone deserves all the praise of each part of creation.

In my travels recently, I had the amazing opportunity to go paragliding. We had some promotional material from the company, and I was looking at it afterwards. The phrase “Discover why the birds sing” caught my eye. When flying through the air, we had a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and lakes; I understood why they would use such a phrase for marketing.

Later, though, I had some time to reflect on the day and the place we were in. I looked around me at the snow-capped mountains, the massive trees that seemed so small from a distance, the river nearby, and all the singing birds, and I was amazed by God’s intricate handiwork in this little piece of the world. In that day, I took some time to think about why the birds sang. I pondered why the water sparkled and why the trees grew tall and then turned beautiful colors in autumn. I considered why the lion roared and why the snow fell and why the sun set and rose each day in all its glorious splendor. I thought about why the stars shone and why the flowers bloomed.

Romans 11:36 reads, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Our God is amazing, and He created all things for the purpose of showing His splendor in so many different ways. It’s easy to imagine how the Grand Canyon or the Rocky Mountains exist for the glory of God, but I so often forget to see Him in the normal, everyday things. Romans says “all things,” though. The birds singing, the sun shining, and the tree growing – each does this to glorify its Maker.

When I remember this, it’s a humbling reminder to me of my lack of praise. I am created in God’s image as a rational, moral creature, but I think the flowers praise God better than I do sometimes. As part of creation, God created me so that I could glorify Him. I forget, I’m distracted, and I’m busy, but sometimes creation reminds me of a better life – one in which my walk gives constant praise to my King.

Kelsey Kuiper