Walking the Yard: Raindrops and Tears

This morning I saw that the New Year’s forecast for my area is for rain and storms–not unlike some of the storms we’ve seen throughout the months of 2020.

Rose of sharon blossom dripping in the rain

This year has brought numerous flash flood warning pop-ups on my mobile phone, days of rain that have left the ground with pools of standing water and with wind gusts that have rattled the windows and scattered broken branches on the driveway and yard.

In a figurative sense, most of us would describe the year 2020 as a storm that has left a trail of debris and casualties in its wake. It’s been a tough one for most of us. But sometimes the storms we’ve experienced this year have been internal where the tears have fallen like rain in the dark of the night when no one else is around to hear the sobs muffled by our tear-dampened pillows. We cry alone and wonder if anyone knows or cares.

But then I step out into the yard after a rain, and I see collected on every leaf, petal, and blade of grass the evidence of the storm–evidence in the form of raindrops sparkling like diamonds, bedazzling the blossoms and trees that have gathered them.

Iris in the rain

As I see those raindrop collections shining from the leaves in the yard, I know that my teardrops too are seen and known. I am reminded of the words of the psalmist: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8 NLT). Jesus, our Savior, who himself wept, cares about our burdens and sorrows. We are not alone! He holds our tears, precious to Him as diamonds. Sometimes it is in those “dark nights of the soul” that we learn valuable lessons about trusting even in the dark when we cannot see what lies ahead.

Years ago Gordon Jensen wrote the song “Tears Are a Language” that expresses how much God does see, know, and care about our grief and tears.

Often you wonder why tears come into your eyes
And burdens seem to be much more than you can bear
But God is standing near, He sees your falling tears
And tears are a language God understands.

Japanese maple leaves bedazzled with raindrops

God sees the tears of a brokenhearted soul
He sees your tears and hears them when they fall
God weeps along with man and He takes him by the hand
Tears are a language God understands.

When grief has left you low it causes tears to flow
When things have not turned out the way that you had planned
But God won’t forget you His promises are true
And tears are a language God understands.

God sees the tears of a brokenhearted soul
He sees your tears and hears them when they fall
God weeps along with man and He takes him by the hand
Tears are a language that my God He understands.

If we flip to the back of the Book, we can know the conclusion even as some of the details of our individual stories are still playing out. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true'” (Revelation 21:3‭-‬5 NIV).

Someday the crying will cease, the tears will be wiped away, and we will be forever with the One who has forever been with us even on our darkest nights. Oh, what a day that will truly be!

Raindrops on roses

Walking the Yard: How Much More…

by Rebecca D. Higgins

The lenses a photographer chooses to use make a big difference on how the subject matter is seen. A wide-angle lens takes in the big picture while a macro lens enlarges little details. Both have their place in photography, and both lens types have their metaphorical place in life.

A dandelion seedhead dampened by early morning dew.

In a year like 2020 with so many unexpected interruptions and crises that wreaked havoc on our big-picture plans, focusing on smaller details became the stuff of our everyday lives. Shopping–whether online or in the stores–revealed a sense of urgency people had to obtain the little but necessary items. Empty meat counters and bare toilet paper and cleaning supply aisles became a visual testimony of people’s worries about the availability of basic necessities.

But as I walked the yard, my own personal list of worrisome questions clamored for answers. I won’t reiterate all those questions here because, as I already stated, they’re personal. However, I readily acknowledge there were many days that I physically felt the anxiety in my chest and the pit of my stomach. But that was when the macro view actually became a blessing.

The tiny blossoms of bluets provide a colorful contrast to the green grass.

I always kept my eyes open to see a splash of contrasting color in the grass that would indicate the presence of a wildflower. Dandelions and bluets, violets and daisies are just a few of the delicate petals that appeared throughout this year. Sometimes the best way to photograph the intricate details of such tiny specimens is to change my posture to kneel or to lie prone in the grass even though I admit the stiffness in my joints makes it much harder to get back up than it did a few years ago. On my knees or on my stomach I am afforded a better view of the variety of amazing designs the Creator has made that we rarely stop long enough to notice. By bending to that position I am reminded that a posture or attitude of humble submission is always the place to start in seeking God and His kingdom.

Flowers weren’t the only source of colorful variety on my pilgrimages in the yard this year. A long list of feathered friends also became points of focus. I watched as robins hopping on the grass tilted their heads before digging in the dirt and coming up with a juicy worm for a nice meal for their family. The contented songs of birds in the cherry trees led me to observe their enthusiastic feasting on the tiny fruit. Every time I observed chickadees up close, their little beaks seemed to be stuffed full with seeds.

A catbird enjoying a spring feast.

Everywhere I looked around the yard were reminders of a benevolent Creator who cares about the tiniest details. As I observed, my thoughts drew me once again to Matthew 6 where Jesus admonishes His followers not to worry.

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Just as I prepared to snap this photo of a perfect daisy, a tiny bee landed and added to the composition.

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:25-33 NLT).

It’s not by accident that these words of Jesus appear in the same chapter as His sample prayer that includes the words, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s interesting to note that the prayer doesn’t include a plea for a ten-year plan. Instead, Jesus focused on daily needs. When we come to God in a humble posture on a daily basis–not weekly, not monthly, not yearly–we acknowledge our utter dependence upon Him and not our own ideas and plans. Our life was formed by Him, and we can trust the continuing details into His hands as well. He cares for the birds and the wildflowers beautifully, but He has made it clear that those examples are just reminders of how much more precious we are in His sight and that He cares for us. With those visual reminders in the yard, I found myself singing the lyrics of the old gospel song “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” not always because I felt happy and free but as an act of faith that proclaimed even in uncertain times: “I know He watches me.”

  1. Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
    Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
    When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
    • Refrain:
      I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
      For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
  2. “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
    And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
    Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
  3. Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
    When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
    I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
    (Lyrics by Civilla D. Martin)
Most of the time the chickadees would alight in the Japanese maple near the house, their beaks would be stuffed with seeds.

Carry Me

by Rebecca D. Higgins

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God” (Psalm 15:1-2a NIV).

 

“CARRY ME!” I looked at the trusting eyes and outstretched arms of my two-year-old second cousin Michelle; and without hesitation, I did what she asked. When I saw the frailty of Michelle’s leukemia-ridden body, there wasn’t anything that I wouldn’t have done for her.

It was summer 1975, and my family was in South Carolina for a few days of vacation with relatives. On this particular day, we had taken Michelle and her grandmother to visit a distant cousin. While the adults chatted inside the house, my sister and I entertained Michelle with a game of hide-and-seek in the yard. But Michelle’s weakened state caused her to tire easily and prompted her request to be carried.

Suffer the Children resizedLater, in the car, as Michelle’s childish voice sang the words, “Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong,” I thought how true it was for Michelle.

It was then that it dawned on me what Christ meant when He said, “Unless you become as little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He wants us all to have the simple trust of a child that recognizes her own weakness and who relies solely on a greater strength.

I haven’t forgotten that lesson in trust, and so I often whisper, “Lord, I’m weak, but You’re strong, so . . . please, carry me!” I rest assured knowing that I am sheltered in His loving arms.

Thought for the day: Trust is surrendering ourselves completely into God’s arms without trying to get down and walk on our own strength.

(This devotional first appeared in Light from the Word, Fall 1989, Vol. 38, No. 1., published by Wesleyan Publishing House, P.O. Box 50434, Indianapolis, Indiana 46250.)