Friday, December 29, 2006

Hear the Angels Sing

“O ye, beneath life’s crushing lead, whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way, with painful steps and slow!
Look now, for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing;
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.”

This Christmas season has been a challenging one for me. I seem to run everywhere, and I find it very difficult to discipline myself to rest. It seems that I’ve become so accustomed to high stress in my “normal, every day life” that I think I can’t function without it, and even come to the point of creating stress for myself. I was at this place several weeks ago—too much to do, not enough time, and my plans for fulfilling my checklist overturned at every bend in the road.

I was confronted with the reality of what I was doing, and the Lord quietly spoke again to me the words I most needed to hear: “Sarah, be quiet. Breathe.” Yes, Lord, how do I do that? What does it look like? “The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man consists in beholding God.” How is that walked out? The answer again- Breathe.

The next morning, in an effort to walk this out, I got up early, grabbed my camera, and headed outside to shoot some pictures in the dawn light. I was a little bored with my surroundings, didn’t see anything special, when I started shooting a large fir tree in our front yard. I was framing a shot, trying out some of my camera settings when I noticed something adorning the tip of the branch that I was shooting.

A delicate strand of white draped across the bow and cascaded down the next one. I looked closer. A spider had been hard at work all night long going from branch to branch, crossing and retracing her steps. The strands weren’t in the form of a web, but more like garland, or strung lights on a Christmas tree. There was heavy mist the night before, and the web collected tiny water droplets that resembled a sting of pearls gracing the wise bows of that tree. I kept looking. The strands of pearls hung on every brand of that tree, and water droplets trembled at the tips of the branches themselves, looking like diamonds in the early morning light. The contrast between the radiant white of the “jewels” and the rich green of the tree was quite stunning.

This may not seem very important to most people, but in previous years we’ve strung that tree full of lights at Christmas time. I love Christmas trees, and I love lights, and that tree is perfect for lights. It stands about fifteen feet high, perfectly shaped. We didn’t hang any lights outside this year. Our family can’t afford the extra cost on the electric bill, so we decided to skip it.

As I stood there this morning, I realized that God decorated it for me. He strung it with lights and pearls on every branch, and the tips of the bows He hung with diamonds. What else would I see, if I where to stop and look? How else might I experience His goodness, His love, His mercy? In my busyness I miss the chance to listen to the songs of the angels singing His praises. I often mistake it for children’s babble. I miss the light extending from His fingertip straight to my heart. I see instead the dirty windshield and beg for sunglasses. I miss the songs that He sings over me, and the fountains of blessings that He pours out on me. I mistake it for irritations, inconveniences, and difficulties.

The trees become a forest, the obligations an opportunity, and the spider webs strings of pearls when we take a moment to breathe, to “rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.”