This past month I had the opportunity to drive 11 hours west to speak at a church in Western Kansas. They have been friends and supporters of ours for many years and are truly a blessing to our ministry. We have known each other now through two pastors, we have done outreaches together, and we even took a congregational field trip to The Creation Museum with them several years ago. I never dreamed that I would be willing to drive through Kansas for anyone, but for them, it’s a privilege.
Actually, though, there was a time when Kansas was a state I just had to close my eyes (metaphorically), grit my teeth (actually) and just get through. I’m from Colorado, right in the foothills of the mighty Rocky Mountains, and for reasons I can only guess (namely, meeting my wife), I attended an old family school “back east” in Ohio. So many times I found myself driving through Kansas, eyes closed and teeth gritted. Flat, featureless and really, really long! And it doesn’t help that once, while still in high school, my mother, grandmother and I drove to that same college to attend a building ground breaking, and on the way, broke down. We were in a 1970 Toyota Corona with two Israeli flags emblazoned across the back window, when we broke down in Mankato, Kansas. (My mother would never take the highway.) The fellow at the station said, “Well, I’m gonna have to go all the way to Salina to get parts for this” (you fill in the accent). A week later, we were finally on our way, and somehow still made the ground breaking. But my disdain for Kansas was born that week!
Since then, I have become a believer in Jesus, and have learned to see beauty in all of God’s creation. And since my friendship with Redeemer Lutheran Church in Atwood, have gotten to drive through Kansas many more times. I’ve driven through the Flint Hills in blizzards, through rain and drought, and even with blazing fires all around me! Every time I marvel at the beauty of the region, along with the high plain and the beautiful prairie. This last time was in the season of that “New Spring Growth Green,” and it was just as beautiful as always. How could I have taken this for granted?
I wonder how many times we’ve gone through our lives busy, disdainful, taking the things around us for granted. This isn’t just about beauty in nature, but beauty in people too. It is so easy today to look around and see nothing but rotten, no good people. But we have to remember that in every one of those people all around us, there is the breath of God. Psalm 33 reminds us that “The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.” This is the same God that “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Please don’t take them for granted. And God sends us to give them the truth, He who is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” Jesus! Don’t close your eyes and grit your teeth. Just look around. Otherwise, you may miss something beautiful.