The Unlikely Suspects

February 19, 2021  •   Tracy Earl Welliver

Women walking in snowy woods with dog
Have you ever taken a nature walk? Have you leisurely strolled through a forest or field, with no real destination in mind and your only objective being receptivity to and observation of all God’s creation?

Sometimes, Scripture readings can feel like a nature walk. All of salvation history plays out against the backdrop of the natural world, with all elements of God’s creation — plants and animals and the dust of the earth itself — turning in a supporting performance. How about Jesus in the hot and dusty desert, tempted, living “among the wild beasts?” Noah departed from his ark with the animals he rescued, observing God’s sign in the very clouds of the sky. Even God Himself, offering us salvation from original sin through the waters of baptism.

How often do we remember that God speaks to us through all of His creation, even in the unlikeliest suspects?

Let’s go back to the nature walk. It sounds like a lovely way to pass an afternoon, amongst wildflowers and butterflies, but don’t forget the beating hot sun, mosquitos, and threat of rain on the horizon. Remember, we’re not in heaven yet. Here on earth, God may be present in His creation, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to endure.

Lent is, essentially, a time to listen for the voice of God in places we may not expect: the mild irritations you experience when you’re craving the chocolate you gave up, or the dull pangs of hunger during the Ash Wednesday fast. It’s a golden opportunity to see the divine hand in all of creation, even those unlikely suspects.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

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