“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.” (Psalms 19:1-3 NIV)
We have all heard this familiar Psalm, and deep down, most of us believe what it says because it is in the Bible and the Bible doesn’t lie! But have we experienced this firsthand? Do we ever take the time to notice the world around us?
I never did. Not until I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, that is. Then, suddenly, the world took on a different meaning. I began noticing things I would never have seen before, and I found that simply by noticing them I received a blessing.
As my wife drives down the road, for example, I’ve learned to keep my eyes on the sights around me. I see the houses. I never noticed before how they are all unique, how they all have their own personality. And the farmers’ fields with their golden waves of grain. And the apple and peach orchards. And the forests and glens and valleys and canyons … Each one delicately formed by the Father’s hand!
Then there is the mighty oak tree. There is a huge, majestic old oak on one of the routes my wife and I take when we go out for our daily walks. It has become for us the centre of that particular route, to the point that we now call it the “Old Oak route”. The tree is absolutely gorgeous in the summer, all decked out in its green leaves. It becomes even more awesome in the fall, as those same leaves turned yellow, orange, and then brown before floating down to the ground. By the time the first signs of winter make their appearance, the tree still has some of those leaves, and it looks like the branches are sporting golden crowns. As the snows begins to fall, the remaining leaves fall too; but the branches still aren’t bare. The arms of that beautiful, old tree are dusted with layers of the white stuff, outlining it beautifully against the horizon. But even when the snow falls off those same limbs and they are perfectly bare, it is still a thing of great beauty. As the sun begins its decent into the west, casting its rays of gold and orange and pink across the evening sky, the bare branches of this grand oak frame the golden orb to form the perfect picture.
Who would have known that I would be so blessed by one simple tree?
When I think back to times when my cognition was intact, I realize that I zipped through life, always jumping from one task to another, always wearing my “fireman” hat as I would go from taking care of one “fire” (read problem) to another. There simply wasn’t time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. And although I’m sure I must have seen that majestic oak tree a hundred times before, it never stood out to me as being anything special. I don’t know why it took Alzheimer’s to make me appreciate the intricacies of creation; but since the Bible tells us to: “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18 NIV), I give Him thanks. Now I wouldn’t necessarily say I thank Him for my Alzheimer’s diagnosis; but I do thank Him for using this to slow me down, to make me notice and appreciate the love the Father pours out upon us through His creation. And when the day comes that God fulfills His promise and returns my cognition, there is one thing I don’t wish to lose: I wish to still be taking every opportunity to admire the intricacies of God’s handiwork!
Don’t wait until some kind of disease or other hardship forces you to slow down. Instead, take time daily to notice, study and admire God’s creation! Who knows? Maybe there is a majestic old oak tree around the corner from you as well, one that is just waiting for you to notice it! You’ll be amazed at how this brings down your stress and increases your ability to commune with God!
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries