Rustlings (November 2, 2015)


I cranked my harvest-moon-colored VW Beetle, put the top down, buttoned my jacket (it was 41 degrees outside) and drove a familiar route to the church office this morning. From East Park Avenue, I turned left on Main… left on Academy… right on McBee… and left onto McDaniel. Ahhhh… McDaniel. Some mornings I take other paths to arrive at 847 Cleveland Street. But in Autumn, I love driving down McDaniel. The woven limbs, of an array of hardwoods, provide a spectacular canopy overhead. And during the Autumn season…well… the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel couldn’t rival this natural, artistic blend of texture, light and color. As I rolled beneath these holy arches, a gust of wind shook the boughs above. I laughed to myself as hundreds of little leaves fell and floated and scattered in the seat and floorboards around me. It was as if God had thrown a ticker tape parade just for me! I wondered what I had done to deserve such a display of heavenly affection and accolade? Was Sunday’s sermon really that good? Was it the one extra visit I made this week? Was God pleased that I was trying to do my best to live this life with some integrity? None of these deeds seemed to warrant a heavenly ticker tape parade. In fact, nothing good I could ever do or ever imagine doing would warrant the kind of affection God has lavished on me…from the trees on McDaniel…or Calvary’s tree. I just watched the leaves fall, smiled and breathed a soft, “Thank you, God.”

I stopped spiritually ‘beating myself up’ a long time ago. It finally sank in – after years of tears and confessions and promises and re-promises and worries and various other forms of mental/spiritual flagellation – that God loves me. I did nothing to deserve it, I can do nothing to maintain it… or lose it. The wind blows where it wills. The leaves fall upon me because of the intentional, mysterious, graceful love of God. If God loves me that way, then God also loves you that way. So when you’re driving up McDaniel… and the wind of God blows…and the leaves fall on you… slow down. Enjoy the parade. It’s in your honor. You are a beloved child of God. Look toward heaven and breath a soft, “Thank you, God.”

— Jim