Summer is so fertile and alive. Soybean fields stretch in green ruffles, corn grows up into a forest, farmers pile hay into beds, and there is green on green all over. Green soybean leaves against green trees and green vines and green bushes and green grass. And all the green and all the crops and all the world hangs on Him who waters “its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow; the hills gird themselves with joy” (Psalm 65:10-12).
God is gracious to strip us of the things we use to secure our good. It doesn't always feel like grace. It can feel like panic, like loneliness, like drowning, like “evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me” (Psalm 40:12). We cradle high thoughts of ourselves, unwilling to admit our guilt and helplessness. Because we fear being left entirely to Christ and His work, we sing lullabies of lies to quiet our consciences. When I think about my sin, I fear, because I can't fix it or control it. If I am worried, I tell myself the gospel not so that I might believe the truth, but so that I might control my unpleasant emotions. Polluted, I use Him to feel better, and I'm sinning just as much. Nothing I do is good enough to please Him or secure joy for myself. Nothing you do is good enough. We ruin everything, and sin spirals out of control. As I think about my sin, sometimes I want to pull out my hair, and sometimes I want to run outside in the rain and let it pound and sting and clean me. Eventually, we come to the end of ourselves, and there is no where else that we can go but to Christ. (The whole Christian life is a continual coming to the end of ourselves and coming to Christ.) “When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!” (Psalm 65:3-4)
In every chloroplast, sunbeam, and raindrop, He has wrapped us up in reminders of His goodness and our dependence. And it is the safest, most beautiful thing to hang on Christ who atones for our transgressions, the sin that is too strong for us, that has gone over our heads. He takes that sin and rains down blood instead, blood that is so different from our polluted efforts, pure and sufficient blood that can cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14).
Paintings, "Landscape at Auvers in the Rain" and "Haystacks Under a Rainy Sky," by Vincent van Gogh, accessed from Wikipedia