Much of the familiar that is all around would be seen as miraculous — or at least astounding — if we would think about it. But many live life not astounded and see no miracles simply because what is all around is familiar. This hymn has been around long enough to be familiar to many. It is a hymn about familiar things — earth, sky, day and night. It is pleasant enough to be sung without much thought or effect. Please give it a sing-along listen, then let’s talk about God’s tender voice to us, begging that we don’t miss the astounding and the miraculous in His works just because they are familiar.
God’s endearing voice
As I became more acquainted with different parts of the Bible I was delighted and surprised to learn that God does not always speak in a booming, deep, thundering Hollywood-style almighty voice. More often our loving Heavenly Father speaks to us in a quiet, endearing voice, and requests our attention through things — or people — that are familiar.
Paul’s letter to the Romans gives us a stunning example of the Lord’s endearing voice. When God raised Jesus Christ from the dead it made a difference and Paul was tasked with telling us about it — which he begins in Romans’ first eleven chapters. Finally in Romans 12 the subject switches from the Lord’s work to our marching orders. Do we hear a drum roll? The Hollywood booming voice of God? Thunder and lightning? Howling winds or other dramatic attention getters? No, we hear a beautiful, loving, entreating request that begins, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, …”
Breathe. Pause and be still. Listen. Receive. Peace. Draw closer and hear more.
Find in Ephesians another example of an amazingly placed entreating request. Ephesians begins with three chapters on the awesome works of the Father and the Son, then Chapter 4 presents our marching orders. Again, the request could not be more entreating as the Lord directs that it be delivered, not by an angel, not by thunder, not in the Hollywood boom tone, but in Paul’s own voice: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called …”.
Beautiful. Draw closer and hear more.
Forget not all His benefits
Is this entreating voice only in the New Testament? Consider this from Psalm 103: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”. Does this verse have the ring of a stern command being delivered in a booming voice? No. Here the Lord does not seem to raise His voice. He does not even demand we remember all His benefits. Through the Psalmist’s voice He asks that we don’t forget them all. And in case the reader’s mind draws a blank, all kinds of benefits are listed right there — benefits that speak volumes about our Lord’s character, love, mercy, provision and so much more.
It is fascinating to realize we can have such benefits from such a wonderful loving Provider, and fail to remember them. But since forgetting is possible, He asks us to take action and not to forget — to do a better job of paying attention.
I saw this quote: “Attention is a limited resource, so pay attention to where you pay attention.” There’s something to think about.
Actor Keanu Reeves is credited with this one:
“A simple act of PAYING ATTENTION can take you a long long way.”
We might add to that and say, “A simple act of paying attention to the Lord’s benefits can take you a long long way.”
Paying attention to the familiar
Let’s look at our song’s list of the familiar in light of “forget not all His benefits”: The Earth, skies, an hour, a day, a night, a hill, a valley, a tree, a flower. (We might think, “yup, seen ’em”.) An eye and an ear, a heart and a mind. How about a sight and a sound making sense to us. (We might think, “Nothing wondrous about that. I use ’em all the time. Who doesn’t?)
Do you see what this song might challenge us to do? It lists things that might escape our notice because they are so familiar. Like Psalm 103, the song asks us to pay attention and not fail to see the touch of the Master’s hand in these familiar — in these miraculous or at least astounding — things our Lord has placed within the reach of our awareness.
Sing. Breathe. See. Hear. Pause. Think. Be still. Reach up. Draw closer. Thank Him. Praise Him. Listen. Receive.
Have you been wanting to hear from the Lord? Ideas from this song’s lyrics can help you strike up a conversation with Him. Here is a suggestion — unplug, go outdoors to a place where His works of “nature” surround you. Breathe. Listen. Draw closer. Thank Him. Then ask Him His thinking — His reasons — for the beauty of the earth.
God bless you lots!
LYRICS: For The Beauty Of The Earth
Author: Folliott Sandford Pierpoint (1864)
Tune: Conrad Kocher (1838)
adapt. William H. Monk, (1861)
1. For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Lord of all to You we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
2. For the wonder of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light:
3. For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the wondrous harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight:
4. For the warmth of human love,
For our families, for our friends,
For the Church led from above,
For a life that never ends:
5. For each perfect gift divine
To our world so freely given,
Joys bestowed by love’s design,
Flowers of earth and fruits of heaven:
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