My dad is a nature lover. Actually, more than that – a nature lover extraordinaire. He isn’t involved with any organizations or protests on behalf of nature, but he is enthralled with a good sunset, relishes the vibrant colors of fall leaves, finds a deep calm in his spirit at the sight of a rainbow. He is keenly aware of the intense and over-the-top beauty of our world (and of my mom, but that’s another story!).

I was in the midst of a discussion with my e-study group this past week that made me consider the extraordinary lengths to which God went when creating the world. I used to wonder at the fact that God, in complete knowledge that Adam and Eve would make a HUGE mistake and be sent OUT of the garden (repercussions resonating for generations to come), went to the trouble to create a garden (and world) so intricately and exquisitely beautiful. What was the point, really, when He knew they (we) would screw up? Then, I started thinking about parenting. When we were pregnant, Kevin and I set about creating the perfect home environment for our girls. We created a beautiful nursery, baby-proofed the whole house, read everything we could get our hands on to be the best parents we could be and create a warm and nurturing home-life for them. We wanted to give them every advantage we could to be the best people they could be. But we KNEW they would screw up. In fact, we knew their lives would be a series of mistakes that would help them learn, and that we would be RIGHT HERE to offer forgiveness, mercy, direction and discipline, to put them back on the right road. We wanted their home to be their harbor, their safe place, a place where they knew they were loved. God did the same for Adam and Eve…and US. He didn’t hold out on creation, because He wanted to give us every advantage and make sure we knew every second, just by looking around, that we were loved and He was behind us as we were learning and growing.

My dad understands this. When he’s having a bad day, he knows it can be made better by allowing himself to be caressed by a gentle breeze, warmed by a sunset, reassured of God’s promise in a rainbow,”hugged” by the solid strength of the trees. Our world wasn’t created to encourage wallowing in shame and defeat. It cries out with God’s loving voice…I’m WITH you, I’m FOR you, YOU CAN BE VICTORIOUS! Look around at what lengths He has gone to encourage you, and be bowled over by His love.