Enjoyment is Worship
Eucalyptus trees have a distinct smell. Some don’t like it but, to me, they are a mixture between the pine trees I grew up surrounded by in northern California and the fresh - so fresh it makes your noise twitch - scent of ocean air. My husband and I saw an enormous eucalyptus when we visited the coast with my parents last week. I made Evan stand underneath it for a picture. I wanted to capture how tall it was, compared to man.
We love trees. When we were dating long-distance, we both read “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben, states apart, sharing our favorite facts via text message and FaceTime. I learned that trees communicate with one another through scent and have a peaceful, give-and-take relationship with fungi, exchanging needed nutrients through their root systems.
Maybe reading a book about trees seems like a waste of time in light of eternity. When you think about all that is going on in our world. All the needs. The issues. The people. Looking at a tree probably seems like an even bigger waste. Who does it help? What is your motive? What else could you be accomplishing for the kingdom?
But I think we forget - or at least I forget - that God is a Father who loves to watch His children open their gifts. That the last thing a parent wants after Christmas is for their child to feel guilty for receiving presents. To have them ask, “How can I pay you back?” No, the best gift a child can give their parents is to take out those new brushes and paint a picture. To ride their new bike down the street, whooping and hollering. To play with their new puppy and laugh at how it nibbles their slippers. To build a castle with the new blocks. To put on the soft new scarf.
Enjoyment is a neglected form of worship. We err on the side of doing rather than enjoying, as though God has only one “love language”: acts of service. And while the Christian is called to lay down their life and pick up the cross of Jesus Christ, to treat others as more important than themselves, and to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, body, and strength, even when it means persecution, hunger, and pain, I have to believe that one of the main ways we will worship God for all eternity is by enjoying His creation in the new heaven and earth.
We might roll our eyes at the hippy or the nature poet - the child who cradles a toad in her hands and names it - but we have so much to learn from them. So much to taste and to savor. To marvel and wonder at. We who know the Creator have the opportunity to worship God not only by serving the Church and the poor, or by reading our Bibles, but by enjoying the work of His hands. Singing with the Psalmist how “creation declares the glory of God.”
Set your alarm to watch the sunrise tomorrow with your morning coffee. Read about how desert animals preserve water to survive the driest months. Enjoy a meal with a friend, noting the flavors and textures. Study your pet. Last night Frank, our dog, selected his favorite toy from a basket and brought it to me. I marveled, and laughed, and stroked his precious head. And I thanked God for His good work. When the sticks in my yard, now covered in snow, burst with flowers in the spring, I will write a poem about them. Take a picture. Or say a prayer of thanks. For this, beloved, is worship.
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