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written by Constance Morgenstern

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"Here, in Continued Months...."

I love TV’s current generation of nature shows! Using top-notch cameras and clever ways to transport them, the presentations highlight the brilliance and diversity of life on this planet.

Closer to home, in bins and pots, I’m growing a few vegetables. It’s the summer of 2020—with stresses of all sorts around us—and I believe that extra doses of God’s miracles can do a body good. It reassures me of God’s abundance when I can stick some slices of store-bought tiny tomatoes into a container of potting mix, then watch seedlings become three feet tall, breaking out with flowers and fruit. I even had enough seedlings to give some plants away—though it was never, really, about anybody’s need of tomatoes.

For a long time, people of faith have appreciated God’s handiwork in the natural world. The vast sky, stars and Heavens, we know, have inspired many to praise God. Consider Psalm 19:1 and Psalm 8. They inspire me, too. Most summers, my husband and I drive out into the countryside to look for meteors in a less-cluttered, darker sky. This year, it was Comet NEOWISE that we got to see, and a few of Jupiter’s moons and the rings of Saturn through a small telescope. At home, with east windows, we can appreciate the grandeur of a sunrise, but at night, too many lights of civilization hinder star-gazing.

It’s too bad that more people can’t enjoy a spectacular night-sky. I would suggest, however, that today we can be wowed in another way—through Earth’s diversity of life. Modern ease of travel, zoos and aquariums let us experience otherwise foreign plants and animals. Even at home, TV and the internet bring us what’s fantastic.

Technology lets us see how life manages to thrive in some very unlikely places, such as in caves, atop mountains, or in the cold, sunless waters of the deep ocean. Life has even been documented around seafloor vents where scalding water pours out from the red-hot depths of the earth. This huge variety of plants and animals in all parts of our Earth—along with the amazing abilities they use to survive and thrive—is a wonder that can lift our thoughts to God.

In the Psalms, David and other psalm-writers did note the creatures of this world and how God feeds them (Psalm 104, esp.24-30). But here’s another cool thing: They expressed the connection that, along with the animals of this world, God also cares for each of us (Psalm 145:8-21, Psalm 40:1-5).

Jesus, too, made that connection when he urged people to not worry (Matthew 6:25-33). You can remember how he pointed out the birds of the air, whose food was provided purely by God, and asked, “Aren’t you even more valuable?” He then pointed out the lilies of the field, glorious with their petals, and said that if God clothes them, surely he would clothe us! Again, in Matthew 10:28-31, Jesus taught how God knows the falling of any sparrow, and then proclaimed that we humans are worth much more! Even the hairs on our heads are numbered by the Lord!

Jesus didn’t speak about the specific marvels mentioned in my song: the arctic ground squirrels or lungfish or various kinds of “resurrection plants” (even though one variety might have been familiar in his area of the world). I do believe, though, that the wonders of creation displayed by such animals and plants can reassure us of God’s care, and that pondering God’s good works in nature fits right in with Paul’s recommendation in Philippians 4:8.

Summer has traditionally been time to vacation, with possible travel to beautiful or astonishing places. But, if you—along with me—find yourself at home a lot this year, you might embrace the following samples of amazement!
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