One of my favorite devotionals is Jesus Calling, by Sara Young.
This title is often what I feel in the early morning when my eyes first flutter open.
When I glance at the glow of the digital clock on my nightstand to see if it’s early enough to try to get a little more sleep.
Or a reasonable time to push back the covers and make my way to the kitchen so I can click on the coffee pot and listen to the first trickle of freshly brewed that signals the start of the day.
When I pick the latter, it’s because the pull of Sarah’s title is exactly what I feel: Jesus calling me to the back porch.
Of course, the back porch isn’t the only place to which Jesus calls me, since we can abide in him wherever we are.
But in the early morning, when the world is transitioning from darkness to the break of day, it’s one of my favorite places to savor time with my Lord.
There, through the screen that surrounds me, I feel wrapped in God’s presence through the sounds of his creation.
And especially savor the miraculous moments when the first glimmer of dawn breaks through the darkness and the singing insects of the night pass the baton to the first chirp of a bird testing the air for any friends who might also be awake.
For a brief time, the two overlap in a harmonious chorus of nature—as if giving report to one another within God’s changing of shifts.
The Bible is full of references to the miracles of nature as evidence of God’s existence and presence, like that found in Psalm 19:1-4:
“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 display knowledge.There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (NIV).
Losing touch with nature
Unfortunately, in our urbanized, industrialized, and tech-oriented world, too many have lost touch with experiencing the power of God’s presence in nature.
Several years ago, I was working remotely for a company based in Dubai. When we had our weekly staff meeting via Skype, I’d take my laptop to our front porch at our home in Dunedin and participate from there. Our house was in a quaint older neighborhood with lots of huge pine, oak, and palm trees, and only a few blocks away from Hammock Park, 75+ acres of natural wonderland that we enjoyed on a regular basis.
During one of the staff meetings, a teammate asked, “What’s that noise? Are those birds?”
“Yes,” I replied, “We’re blessed with a lot of birds.”
“Wow, that’s awesome,” she said. “We don’t have any birds here.”
I can’t even imagine living in a place so devoid of nature that there aren’t any birds. Of course, there are probably birds somewhere in Dubai, but her perception that there weren’t made me sad for her.
God’s miraculous gift
God has given us nature for many wonderfully practical purposes to physically nourish and sustain us. But he probably didn’t need to apply so much creativity to his efforts if his purposes were purely practical.
Instead, I think God instilled nature with the millions of beautiful and stunning miracles he did as an expression of his love for us. And as a sanctuary for prayer, in which his presence is so incredibly palpable.
I know everyone’s situation is different and it may not be easy to find a way to sit peacefully within the harmony of God’s early morning chorus—so I’d like to share mine with you, if you’d like.
The five minute audio clip below is one I recorded from our deck early one morning, when the birds were singing to announce the break of day (and everyone really wakes up around 3 1/2 minutes in!).
Feel free to download it and play it as often as you like—and join me and Jesus on the back porch as you do.
P.S. Heads-up that the next Soundcloud clip (likely music) will automatically play after mine finishes, which may be quite loud.
Feature photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash.