Advent Day 5: The Earth Is Filled

I try to find one thing of marvel every morning on my way to work. Once you start this habit it isn’t easy to break; the earth brims over with beauty, from the early crisp air frosting blades of grass to fallen leaves on water, even the man-made architecture mirrors the majesty of my surroundings as I make my morning commute.

IMG_1489The earth is filled with God’s love, evidence of his care and purpose. These days, I see God in everything–the light, the shadow, the camouflaged deer, the reach of the tree branch, the bud and blossom and wilt of every blooming thing, the precision of mathematics, the order of elements, the rhythm of poems and song, the mechanics of skin and lymph node and blood vessel and bone, the spread and breadth of the expanding universe–I can’t help it. He’s everywhere.

Being aware of this presence makes the brokenness of it even more injurious. I just can’t stand it, the ache and hate and ego, the disease and hunger and death, the bitterness and fear. The disregard for both the earth’s wellbeing and our fellow planeteers just breaks my heart.

IMG_1490Amazingly, God can even take those deep wounds and transform them into something beautiful.

The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.

– Psalm 119:64

The psalmists often pair God’s love with following his decrees–if we believe that God is the creator who has embedded his love throughout the world, to be with him in this space is to learn his ways and follow them.

When our sense of God’s presence is absent, things start to narrow. When I can’t see the sprawling vastness that is God in this universe, my vision becomes self-centered:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. 

Galatians 5:19-21

But when I remember that God’s ever-present love infiltrates the everyday, it’s as if a wide-angle lens is installed and I can see the people and creatures around me.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:23

Those fruits are other-focused, not me-focused. There’s no law against them because they are God’s decree: Love one another. How do you know when God is with us? By looking outward: see how the earth is filled with his love. Grasp that fruit.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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