When I was in elementary school, our report cards contained a section on “class citizenship.”
We didn’t just get grades on spelling and arithmetic; our teachers also evaluated our character.
There was a list of personal qualities; and, next to each one, a ranking: VS (Very Satisfactory) or S (Satisfactory) or U (Unsatisfactory).
Near the top of the list was “displays initiative.” My teachers wanted me to have more than the ability to add and subtract; they wanted me to be what they called a “self-starter.”
Strictly speaking, of course, there are no self-starters – except God. Only God gets a Very Satisfactory in “displays initiative.”
God is the source and energy of everything – of everyone, everywhere and “everywhen.” God spoke, God sang, the heavens and the earth into existence.
God invited creation to spring from chaos. “Let there be,” God said, “and there was.”
Everything begins in God’s delight and voice. Everyone is born to the sound of God’s joy and the song.
The voice that called everything into existence still whispers in all creation. God’s word forever echoes in the universe.
The glory of God shines from sun, moon and stars. The power of God flows in mighty rivers. The silent depths of God wait for us in the oceans. God dances in the blowing leaves, plays in the squirrels’ scampering in the trees, and calls to us in birdsong.
People God made in God’s own image are also God’s music and speech. God looks on us with eyes of people who love us.
God hears our stories with the ears of people who take time and care “to listen us into speech.”
God touches us with the hands of people who bless and help us. God is with us in the steady presence of people who stay at our sides no matter what we do or fail to do.
So why don’t we see and hear and feel the wonders of God and God’s creation that are everywhere?
Maybe it’s because we don’t linger long enough and lovingly enough to listen to what we hear, to take in what we see, and to experience what we feel. We’re busy, in a hurry, distracted.
Sometimes we forget that there were pauses and rests in God’s creation-song – times when God savored and enjoyed what came into being.
Punctuating the opening chapters of Genesis is this glad refrain: “And God saw that it was good. … God saw that it was very good.” That word translated good also means beautiful.
God saw that it was beautiful, very beautiful. God delighted in what God had made.
Maybe what we need is to pause, too – to listen very closely and expectantly – so that we can hear the world whispering to us about the wonder of the God who made it.
If we settled in to the stillest silence we can manage, we will hear, sounding from the heart of that silence, the universe inviting us to exult in God’s glory.
Let’s open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our noses to smell, our skin to feel, and our mouths to taste the goodness and generosity of God.
Let’s allow beauty to overtake our hearts, wonder to inundate our spirits, and mystery to fill our minds.
Let’s notice the ways love keeps finding us – because it is everywhere! – no matter how lonely and afraid we feel. And then, let’s shout, sing and dance our glad response.
A consultant with the Center for Healthy Churches (CHC), he served previously as an assistant professor of religion at Mars Hill University, an adjunct professor at Gardner-Webb Divinity School and as pastor of several Baptist churches.