Be Still and Know
On a beautiful Spring Saturday, my three sons and I went to work on the nature trail at the camp. As we hiked through the woods with our saw, pruning shears, and other gear, we were filled with the camaraderie of boys and dads in the woods.
My youngest son, Terry, who was four, waded through every mud hole in the swamp. In addition, he kept up a steady stream of four-year-old questions such as, “Daddy why does that water move in the creek?”
In addition to working on the trail, we brought Ziploc bags to pick huckleberries. In late May the huckleberry bushes near the creek are always full of ripe, juicy berries.
The huckleberry is a wild type of blueberry. It is half the size of a tame blueberry. It takes a great deal of picking to get a decent amount of berries. But the picking is definitely worth the trouble. As we picked berries, the thought of hot huckleberry cobbler topped with ice cream gave me all the motivation I needed.
I gave my two older sons instructions: Look carefully in the bushes for snakes before picking. My second instruction was this: You must pick twenty berries for every one you eat. They laughed when I quoted rule number two. As I watched the purple stains grow around the edges of their mouths, I’m not sure my ratio was being followed.
But four-year-old Terry was a different story. After twenty minutes, he had picked about ten berries and asked somewhere in the neighborhood of three hundred questions. After answering many questions, which always led to another question, I found myself rapidly losing patience.
Finally, I encouraged him to go sit on the creek bank and watch Bundick Creek flow. I reminded him that downstream from here is where we swam during the summer. He found a seat on the bank, and I returned to a time of peaceful berry-picking.
As I picked, I kept an eye on Terry. I couldn’t help but notice he was talking. I thought he was probably playing with one of his imaginary friends. (Just a few minutes earlier, he’d told me “I’m Roy Rogers, and this horse is named Trigger.”)
After a few minutes of this self-absorbed talking, he called over to me. “Daddy, I’ve been talking to God.” I replied that I was glad. Then I inquired, “Well, what did He tell you?” “Daddy, I was thanking him for picking huckleberries and swimming in the creek and lots of other things.”
We then conversed about how being out in nature makes us want to talk to God. Terry showed a great deal of insight when he told me, “Daddy, when you’re outside like this, you just think about God, don’t you?” I felt a lump in my throat and it wasn’t because of the huckleberry I’d just eaten.
As Terry returned to roaming about and I went back to berry-picking, I was reminded of a Scripture. I couldn’t quote it in the woods, but when I got home I looked it up. It was Matthew 21:16 where Jesus said, “Out of the mouths of babes . . . thou hast perfected praise.”
We can surely learn a great deal from children. Their faith is so pure and innocent, and many times their insight is keener than ours. My son had reminded me of something I knew so well: When we get out in God’s world and become surrounded by nature, we will feel close to God . . . and want to talk with Him.
As I thought about this, I recalled one of my favorite Scripture verses:
Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10
Because most of us live in a fast-paced society, we don’t get out where it is really quiet. We move daily in a lifestyle that is never at rest or silent. Because of this, we can never claim this verse as the promise it is. If we get still . . . we will feel God’s presence.
As the three boys and I hiked out of the swamp, I realized how important time together like this was. The investment of time I make in my children pays rich dividends. In addition, making sure they are out in the marvelous beauty of God’s world is another responsibility I have.
As we walked, I silently thanked God for all of the rich blessings He’d given me. As I watched my boys walking together along the trail, I thanked God for the blessing of my family. I also thanked Him for the beauty of nature and how it teaches me so much about His majesty. And then I thanked Him for all of the many, many everyday things that make life so special . . . things like picking huckleberries on a warm day in May.