The Stones Will Cry Out … and the Loons, and the Eagles, and the Trees, and …

June 23, 2009 | 26 comments

My father-in-law once gave me a wooden plaque with these words:

“It’s better to sit in a boat, and think about God, than to sit in a church and think about fishing.”

When I opened the gift, I offered a polite smile, then pondered where I might display such a plaque. It just didn’t seem … proper.

But that was before I knew what my father-in-law knew.

That was before I knew that God wasn’t some bitter pill to be swallowed in Sunday-morning doses.

That was before I knew that worship happened in the most unexpected places.

That was before I discovered the presence of the Father in my garden,
at cornfield’s edge,
in a hospital birthing unit,
or on a lake with a fishing pole in my hand.

***

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love church. I’ve felt the presence of God to the point of tears while singing old hymns on a Sunday morning. But I’ve also been on the other side — so steeped in religious tradition that I showed up for my Sunday dose out of obligation rather than devotion.

Which brings me to Horseshoe Lake. That’s where I ended up on Saturday morning, on a Minnesota lake thick with God.

The three of us — Dad, my husband and me — backed the Lund boat down the ramp, as nature awoke to a new day. The cry of the loon ricocheted off thick stands of birch and pine. An eagle ascended from a high branch. The water below was so calm and clear that you could see largemouth bass hovering over weed beds.

Our minnow pail was full; so was my soul.

We cut a quick swath through the water, and stopped near a grassy shore to tempt largemouth looking for breakfast. Mirrored water reflected morning sun like flickering flashbulbs, like Hollywood paparazzi who came to snap images of the famous one.

And the Famous One showed up. He most certainly did.

Scripture says that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, a noisy crowd began to cheer for God. Right there on the city streets! You can almost hear the gasps of the religious elite. But the religious know-it-alls didn’t just gasp and clap hands over mouths in disgust. They had a word with the donkey-rider. Jesus, they asked, is there any way you can make these cheerleaders shut up?

Jesus responded: “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

On Horseshoe Lake, I could almost hear the stones. I did hear this:

The cry of the loon, echoing praise
The towering birch, clapping her hands
The pine-covered hill, bursting in nature’s song

I wonder what God thinks when I miss the sunsets He paints for me, when I miss the spray of lilacs out my front door, or the caterpillar on my driveway. The stones could cry out, yet I often remain silent. It seems an insult to withhold my praise, while nature raises a song to the Creator.

So I will sing along.

***

You know, I have a mind to find that old wooden plaque and hang it by my front door. For it’s true: It is, indeed, good to sit in a boat and think about God.


… The mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
— Isaiah 55:12

Photo: View from the front of the boat at Horseshoe Lake.

This is one of two posts about worship experiences during my Minnesota vacation. Check back in a couple days for a post about worship at the Longville Community Church in Minnesota.

by | June 23, 2009 | 26 comments

26 Comments

  1. Get Real Girl

    I am not usually up so late, but I just caught your updated post before I turned my computer off for bed. Thank you for giving me a wonderful thought to wake up to in the morning. May I find God in unexpected places tomorrow as I go about my busy day. So glad that your weekend in Minnesota was wonderful.

    Reply
  2. Lindy

    You were only 30 miles or so from my house! I hope you enjoyed your time of rest and relaxation. Thanks for the message!

    Reply
  3. Jennifer

    Hey Lindy — I was just over at your place. I was going to ask where you lived. Do you know Horseshoe Lake?

    My parents' cabin is on Mule Lake, near Longville. We go up a couple times every summer. We're headed back in August.

    Since you're a Minnesota girl, you probably know what a "Lindy rig" is, right? 😉

    Reply
  4. Beth E.

    What a beautiful post, Jennifer! You speak with great compassion and wisdom. I will be thinking about your post for the rest of the day!

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving your sweet comment. You made my day!

    Blessings,
    Beth E.

    Reply
  5. Robin

    God taught me this years ago, that is way I love to go fishing with my husband…I always experience a depth of God's presence I find no where else except when I am on the hospital ward visiting the sick. Jennifer I pray God will bless you today! Love Robin

    Reply
  6. RCUBEs

    What a precious time with your Daddy, daddy and husband 🙂 The words from that wooden plaque are so true. It's neat that we can worship Him anywhere, anytime. His magnificent creations all point out to Him. And you described it here so well. God bless sister and may you find that "plaque" 🙂

    Reply
  7. Billy Coffey

    I go to church once a week, where I sit in a nice building and listen as someone wiser than I talks to me about God.

    I go to Church (capital "c") more often, where I sit in the mountains and listen as God talks to me about Himself.

    Amazing post, Jennifer. I expect no less.

    Reply
  8. mom2six

    Touched by your post and the comments today. Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Colleen

    What a beautiful post! I love it. You were having a Sabbath moment! I have been posting about Sabbath moments a lot lately and this is a great example of one. Beautiful. God bless.

    Reply
  10. Angie

    Beautiful thoughts. Worshipping in spirit and truth…God has been teaching me the same things. These activities, these gifts, can't help but bring worship.

    Reply
  11. Faith Imagined

    This post is beautiful and so true! I feel the same way when I am at the beach feeling the sand on my bare feet and listening to the ocean waves!!!

    Reply
  12. Beth E.

    Jennifer,
    Thanks so much for becoming a follower of my blog! 🙂

    Reply
  13. christy rose

    Yes, it is good to sit anywhere and think about God. Church is only one place. There are so many more places that can be enjoyed in the presence of our God, worshipping Him with our heart and our thoughts.
    Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting me today. I always look forward to your sweet input.
    Christy

    Reply
  14. Lindy

    You are a little further than I thought (about 3 hours). There is a "horseshoe" of lakes around Cold Spring near St. Cloud. That's what I was thinking of. We're west of the cities. I wasn't a lake person until I moved up here and my son LOVES it! He can't get enough of the boat and the water. We feel pretty blessed that this was our first call even though it wasn't our first choice!

    Reply
  15. Prairie Chick

    >>But I've also been on the other side — so steeped in religious tradition that I showed up for my Sunday dose out of obligation rather than devotion.<<

    This is where I'm at. Not for lack of trying. Just walking through a desert where I don't even feel like I can milk an ounce of "daily dose" out of the service. I don't know if it's God who has planted this hunger and thirst for so much more within me or if it is the devil who just wants to discourage me. I'm flat on my face with this one just waiting for God to reach down and stir things and send a fresh breeze of annointing through these stagnant waters of routine.

    Reply
  16. ~Maria

    Your recent comment on my blog was so kind it brought tears to my eyes….thank you. You have such a way with words and this post is a perfect example of that.

    Reply
  17. Charity Singleton

    Jennifer – Well said. Oh how I wish I could find the courage to worship in all places as I do in church and in a boat. I wish I could worship better at work and in front of a canvas and with the dust cloth in hand. All kinds of unexpected places to expect Jesus!

    Reply
  18. Kristi L

    Awesome post Jennifer! We lived every summer at a lake home during my "growing up" years and I've always felt God's presence when near water ~ in the quietness of nature ~ it's my favorite place to worship and glorify Him!

    Reply
  19. Jennifer

    Fabulous. I love learning about in God in church, but even more, I love to meet with him in nature. Thank you for reminding us to stop and look for God in the little things. I do wonder what He thinks when we miss Him because we're too busy to open our eyes and really see.

    Reply
  20. Deb

    I agree with you, it's insulting "to withhold my praise" from the One who is so worthy of praise.

    No church can contain Him; therefore, no church can contain His praise.

    Get those fishing boats ready!

    Reply
  21. Mama D.

    What a way with words..you Never cease to amaze me..happy that I read this just before going to bed..Makes me appreciate things that I am sure I miss everyday..the plaque will be a great reminder and was a wonderful gift from your father-in law..

    Reply
  22. Warren Baldwin

    Being in nature is a wonderful spiritual experience for me, too. Since God created nature it is now wonder his fingerprints and presence are so readily discerned there. Your Dad's quote is awesome! I will remember it. Great post!

    Reply
  23. Emaan

    hmm.. very nice post indeed.. we jsut had a trip too, wasn't that great.. but then i was with mom n dad, so it was worth it !

    Reply
  24. Jennifer

    Prairie Chick — I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I've felt that way plenty often.

    I appreciate your honesty. You know, friend, you awaken my heart of worship every time I visit your place on the WWW. Worship radiates from your spot in this blogging world; it radiates from you — even in this blog comment where you cry out for more of Him.

    I'm praying with you, that God reaches down and sends a fresh wind, and a fresh fire.

    Reply
  25. Joye @ The Joyeful Journey

    Oh I agree!! I agree!!!! Worship is as natural a thing as breathing!! And when we breathe HIM in He fills our lungs with the fresh wind of his Holy Spirit!!!!

    As usual, I am blessed, so blessed to read your words!

    Love you, dear Sister!

    Reply
  26. Tabitha@ichoosebliss

    Your writing is so filled with passion and I love it. I'm honored to have found your blog.

    Reply

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