January 3, 2013

Outdoor Truths

by Gary Miller of Harrogate Tennessee


As a young adult, I remember fishing the river bank at Mr. MacDonald's farm. He was an older man whose property ran along the river. I don't remember how we first discovered this place but it seemed to not upset him when we set up camp on his farm. Many of those days he would come by and check on us and tell us a few stories about days gone by.

One of his tobacco barns stood only a few yards from where we fished and it seemed that no matter what time of year it was, he always had a few tobacco plants hanging inside. On occasion he would give us some leaves to take home and twist for a good homemade chew. His recipe was either to cut up a fresh apple and let it marinade the leaves for a few days or to ease that twist of tobacco down into a jar of honey or molasses. This was my favorite.

Alongside that same bank was his boat. It was one like I had never seen before or since. I can only describe it as a flat-bottom canoe made of wood. It was long and not very wide or deep and I can only remember a couple of places to sit down. Now I'm sure that he had landed a few fish from this boat in times past, but now the boat was used for occasional transportation. When the weather was good and the "creek didn't rise", each Sunday, Mr. MacDonald would take his long, homemade oar and get in his homemade boat and traverse the small river to the church he attended downstream. I'm sure that he had other ways of getting there but the boat was his preferred means. Now, as a younger fellow I never asked him why he did that. I wished I had. But as an older man, I can imagine the reasons. There's no doubt the short journey prepared his mind for worship. The trip itself, for someone like you and me and him, would be a worship experience. I can imagine the sights he must have enjoyed as he prepared to meet with fellow believers. I can imagine how he must have been awestruck by the picture of God as painted by creation. I can imagine how the voices of each animal became God's unique choir, as they were sung in unison.

The biblical David must have taken that same trip when he sung the words, "The heavens declare the glory of God!" It's true. And even though that boat is perhaps rotted and ruined, the sights and sounds that declare the glory of God are still there for us, if we'll put ourselves in the place to see and hear them.

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