May 25, 2018

Pastureland and Provision

V a s t, green stretches of open pastureland – often without a building, or any other human beings, in sight. This was among the most breathtaking sights on my recent trip out west.

The landscape was striking, of course, because of its uniqueness – such vistas don’t open up to us every day in Cincinnati (nor even in many rural places east of the Mississippi, where even the most uncluttered of our open landscapes still hold a house here, a barn there, or some lights on the horizon).

The peacefulness and simplicity of such places is also stunning for us modern, fast-paced, digitally-connected Americans. The rolling hills, the ‘big sky’, the gentle breeze, the sound of birds – they seem to beckon one to just lay down in the grass for an hour or two, looking up at the sky, and forgetting all this complicated world.

And then this reality occurs to me as well – this marvelous countryside not only fills the souls of men with marvel, but also fills the bellies of thousands of cattle, and sheep, and bison, and pronghorn! These vast hills and plains are their pantry, their dinner table, their daily bread! And what a spread it is! How richly our heavenly Father has provided for them (Psalm 145:16)! What a marvelous food supply He has created for their good!

And, as Jesus says about the birds, “Are you not worth much more than they?” If God feeds the birds, Jesus reasons with us in Matthew 6:26, then surely He will also feed us, who are far more valuable than any sparrow, hawk, or dove. And I saw the same logic, on a grand scale, in the western United States. If our Father has provided this vast food supply for the bison, and the cows, and so on … then surely He will provide for us humans who have been created in His own image; and all the more so for those whom He has re-created in His Son!

And, of course, we don’t have to go to Montana or Wyoming to digest this logic. The birds Jesus speaks of live all around us – along with squirrels, and deer, and suchlike. And God is feeding them – often right before our eyes, if we pause to observe it. So pause to observe it! “Look at the birds of the air”! And remember, as William Cowper has paraphrased Jesus’ teaching, that “He who feeds the ravens will give His children bread.”

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