The accident ahead had closed one lane of the expressway and slowed traffic to a crawl. As far as I could see, the line of cars before me snaked its way southward at a snail’s pace entirely ignoring my fast approaching appointment.
Common questions raced through my mind resurrected from memories of other similar situations: Why hadn’t I left earlier? What would those who were depending on me do if I didn’t arrive on time? How much time would this traffic tie-up cost me?
Then a glance to my right changed everything. In the distance, on a hillside, stood a white steepled church, nestled in a grove of trees clothed in gorgeous autumn colors.
This was a time to worship, not worry, a time to give thanks for a slowdown that had called my attention to the beauty that surrounded me in this rolling, multicolored, Lake Michiganside terrain that silently spoke so eloquently of its Creator.
That was when I heard Steve Green, one of my favorite recording artists, filling my car with a moving song of praise. Steve had been singing all the while I had been stewing but I had been so occupied with my predicament that I hadn’t been tuned in.
Now reality broke through: being delayed was no great tragedy after all. Here I was surrounded by breathtaking beauty that spoke of the plan and power of my Lord with far more eloquence than I would be able to muster when I reached my destination. And even if I never arrived, another would take my place, empowered by the one who schedules this divine display of color every year.
I’m not the first to be moved to worship by the wonders of creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard,” said the Psalmist (Psalms 19:1-3). My favorite commentator on the Psalms says of this text: “Any part of creation has more instruction in it than human minds will ever exhaust. Every moment God’s existence, power, wisdom and goodness are being sounded abroad by the heavenly heralds which shine on us from above”.
According to the Bible, this continuing sermon by God’s handiwork leaves every person on earth without excuse (Romans 1:10). In other words, nature’s long lecture about God’s love is intended to remind us that the One who created everything according to His eternal plan has a special place in it for you and me and that we are accountable to Him for what we do with our lives.
Now I’m convinced that my expressway slowdown was no accident. I nearly missed creation’s sermon that Sunday while hurrying to deliver my own. Without that traffic jam slowdown I might have missed God’s great sermon in splendor.
This is not to say we ought to choose nature walks and color tours over public worship. The same Book that declares the glory of God is found in creation, warns us not to forsake gathering with others for worship and praise (Hebrews 10:25).
In spite of my divinely ordered delay, I was able to get to the church on time, arriving enriched by the scenic sermon along the way.
If you’re in jam today, look for evidences of the Creator’s design in your slowdown.
God wants to do beautiful things in your life.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.