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Trees Tell Tales

By Andrew Goins

Watauga CountyAndrew Goins


Observation of God’s work leads to a cosmic conversation, between heaven and the earthGod and us. A conversation where awe and abdication are wed in beholding a Creator God who paints self-portraits on mountains and mirror-like lakes.

Read the scriptures of creation!  God speaks in the snow, rain, river, and sand. See the “trees clapping their hands” and the “hills skip like lambs” as the rocks cry out “Hosanna, hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” For creation cries, where our boredom dies in the deep sighs of breath breathed in, and out. Out and in—for in new life we breathe again. We rise again, keenly observing the visible whirling world, spinning upward and outward, spitting out ‘Word,’ God’s Word. Jesus the Word.

Take it in. Breathe it in. Inhale its goodness. Psalm 19 begins with a similar exclamation.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

    the skies proclaim the work of his hands”

The Psalmist has his Ph.D. in the hermeneutics of creation. He is an expert in the exegesis of hummingbirds humming, and trees budding and bursting with beauty. He is an intellectual of the night. A scholar of the sun. “Learn the liturgy of the morning,” he says ” and join the vigil with the stars, saints, and angels, praying Maranatha in the womb of the pregnant night.”

Psalm 19 implores us to pay attention. Take it in. Breathe it in. Inhale its goodness. Interestingly, the Psalm ends with “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” The French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin writes “tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” We become what we bite. We are fashioned into what we devour. We are conformed to what we consume. For example, porn feeds lust, so that lust thrives. Paradoxically, porn starves lust, so that lust clamors and claws, like a baneful beast screaming “feed me!” Junk food whets the appetite for empty calories that demand more empty calories. Soon you will find your belly full and your body famished.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” ~Luke 6:45

Stock the shelves of your heart with ridged rocks, where God has left His fingerprints like a criminal wanting to be caught. Fill the shelves of your heart with the silent sound of revelation. Sunset revelation. Moon rising revelation. Rainstorm revelation.

“They have no speech, they use no words;

    no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

    their words to the ends of the world.”

~Psalm 19:3-4

The Hebrew word for voice, (Kole, קוֹל) is used for the first time in Genesis 3:8.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound (Kole, קוֹל) of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden”

It is here that we are struck with the silent sound of God walking in the garden. You must first pay attention. You must first listen. Do not hide. Be dis-covered, naked, and exposed, so that you may discover the heart of God.

Adam and Eve ran and hid. They were clothed in naked shame. They buried themselves in the bushes of life on their terms. You and I hide every day. We hide from God by living hurried lives. We distance ourselves from God by living distracted lives. Bustling lives bury us in the ground of busy business because we do not take the kingdom of God seriously. We live in a whirling world. A waring world vying for our attention. We think we are consumers, but in reality, we are being consumed by sin. So, we spit out sin with our words, proving ourselves quite fluent in grunts and grumbles, and a few curses sprinkled in here and there. Maybe you are more fluent in letting the proverbial punch line (as in line meant to punch) fly into your spouse, parent, or child. Stop speaking. Stop running. Stop hiding. Let the sacred silence purify your heart, preparing you for the “Kole” of God.

God is always speaking. The “Kole” of God is always filling up this wild and wonderful world.

Stop. Be still. Silent. Listen. Pay attention.

Run from God by living a crowded life; a busy life, and you will believe you are god. Gorge yourself in the glory of God. Fatten yourself on fields fashioned with forget-me-nots, and you will find yourself wrapped up in gospel goodness crying out with the rocks “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”


Andrew Goins is on staff for a campus ministry at Appalachian State University called Ratio Christi. He also works as a youth leader and worship leader at Arbor Dale Presbyterian Church in Banner Elk.

Andrew is committed to simply and thoroughly loving his wife Bethany, growing in his bible nerdiness, delighting in good books (theology, poetry, and select fiction), music, photography, creation, and in gathering people together for bible studies, a shared meal, or making music.

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