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Friday, April 13, 2007

Distinguishing Between Sounds

The other day, I had the opportunity to take a run/hike in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge near Multnomah Falls. As any of you know who have visited the area, this is beautiful country. The rush of the falls, the lush green forest, and the views up and down the river are all awe inspiring. In my mind, though, some of the best views are discovered beyond the falls themselves. A steep climb to the top of the falls will take you to higher country, where the rushing stream cascades over several more waterfalls. These picturesque scenes were the perfect backdrop for a cool morning outing.

I had a unique experience on the way back. When you come down from the high country, there is a small ridge you must cross to descend back into the Columbia River Gorge. As I came to the top of this ridge, the sound of the rushing stream behind me gave way to a new sound- the rush of the freeway below in the river gorge. It struck me how similar these two sounds are. If you weren't paying much attention, the steady buzz of the river and the highway would be almost indistinguishable. In my mind, the natural beauty of God's creation was being mimicked by what man had made.

It came to me that this is a frequent occurrence in our lives. We live in a world that offers us this constant balance of what God has created and what man has made. And if we're not paying attention, it is easy to exchange one for the other. God in his wisdom and goodness has given us the gifts of marriage and sexual intimacy. Man has given us exploitative images and one night stands. God invites us to experience purpose and meaning through knowing Him. Man offers the illusion of purpose through accumulation and achievement. God offers rest and peace through reflection and stillness. Man has promised relaxation with bigger boats or better spa treatments.

And in every case, what man has made is usually easier to come by and more readily available. The rush of the freeway is available just a few miles from my front door. In order to hear the rush of a mountain stream, I have to go there. It takes effort to leave the freeway and climb to the top of the falls. And yet that experience, of entering in to God's creation, was more satisfying by far.

So, are we listening? Are we learning to distinguish between the noise of culture around us and the gentle music of God's grace around us, made evident in His creation? If you're having a hard time recognizing the difference between the real life God offers, and the mimicking of man, then go to the source. Discover again the richness of God's plan in His Word. Sit in stillness and enjoy the beauty of His creation. Reflect on the joy you find in your heart when you trust in Him above all things. And don't be afraid to leave the buzzing freeway to sit beside the rushing stream.

Journey in the grace of a good Creator.

Nick

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