They Pour Forth Speech

Written by Phyllis Unkefer
Photography by Sydnee Mela & Morgan Campbell

Over the next few weeks, we'll be sharing various excerpts from our Cultivate series on the blog.  These writings are a gift from our community to you, in hopes that they will bring refreshing and empowerment to your heart at the beginning of this new year. You can learn more about our Cultivate series here.

This week's piece comes from our latest edition of CultivateCreativity Unlocked, Volume IV. They Pour Forth Speech was written by Cageless Birds staff member Phyllis Unkefer and is full of moving imagery. This writing concludes with a prompt to help you unlock a secret from the Father's heart, just for you. As you read this piece, may you be caught up in the Father's love for you -- may you feel more known and understood by Him than you did when you woke up this morning. 

 

"THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD, THE SKIES PROCLAIM THE WORK OF HIS HANDS.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  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 19:1-4, NIV).

 

It was January in Michigan.  Winter had swept over our lawns, encrusted our car windows and frozen our mailboxes shut.  Snow came like a slowly mounting siege on our driveways of which we had to shovel our way out.  It whitewashed the view in our windows, squintingly bright.  But as it fell, it brought a hushed invasion of quiet.  Snow has a way of softening edges.  It calms the outside air.  While it’s able to reach many places—the ridges of our roofs, the underbellies of our cars, the bare patch of skin between your jacket sleeve and glove—that morning’s snow and its quietude couldn’t seem to reach my mind.  I woke up with teeming thoughts.  Anxiety is a giant I’ve faced over the years, and we’d squared off that day.  I don’t remember why.  I do remember the heaviness—the tightening of stress around my collar bone and this wired restlessness in my chest.  I’d tried to push past the strain to rest with God.  I worshiped, I prayed, I meditated, I sang, but peace felt out of reach.  So I took a walk.

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Through the woods all I could see were my boots overtaking each other, one after another in some kind of self-appointed race.  My lungs pushed against a wall of frozen air.  I paced, digging up my honest thoughts and shoveling them to Jesus’ feet.  When I reached the end of the trail, I stopped and spun around to see the shoe prints that had chased me all the way there.  Under the empty trees with my veins rushing and my breath rising in a haze, I leaned into my need.  I needed the Father’s voice.  I needed His relieving words to cut through to my heart.  I told Him so, with the graceless tone of an overtired child, I’m sure.  But grace is His to give.  
 

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Just as I was blindly reaching toward Him like a kid with outstretched arms, I saw it happen. 

 

Her face slipped through the bushes.  The leaves parted for her reverently, and she moved as quietly as fog lifts.  A deer.  Ten feet in front of me.  Directly in sight.  We both went completely still.  We stared at each other with held breath.  While she was uncertain of me, I was overwhelmed by her.  Slender face, pointed ears, dark eyes heavy with understanding.  Her shy loveliness drew all of my senses to one point of awestruck attention.  We stood there for a stunning amount of time in the kind of moment that makes the heart ache with gratefulness.  Then she made the first move.  She drew back through the bushes and slowly strode away.

I love miracles!  This was one.  Even more miraculous was the moment after, when I found myself at peace.  Everything had gone entirely still.  I leaned into the quiet.  It softened my edges.  I felt the Holy Spirit’s nearness as I stood in the snow, and I’m quite sure that I laughed out loud.

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On my way back up the path, the forest was all at once alive: cardinals swooping below branches, chipmunks dashing over drifts, a woodpecker drumming, a hawk hanging overhead, a thousand white leaves holding on by their stems and hovering through the forest like apparitions of spring.  Then around a corner, seven deer leapt!  Their white tails flashed into the trees, and I’m sure she was with them.  As soon as I whispered, "This is amazing," the Father answered me: "Yes.  And it’s for you."

Our Father created the earth.  Creativity is language for the heart.  Our human hearts speak through what we make, and this is no less true for the heart of God.  The Holy Spirit often asks me, "Do you hear the morse code?"  He’s pointing to the wordless messages the earth is constantly sending, the love notes the Trinity has folded up and slipped inside of everything—every maze of bark, every toucan’s beak, every manta ray’s gliding and weightless wings.  Psalm 19:4 in The Message says, "Unspoken truth is spoken everywhere."  That day in the woods, I needed to hear it—God’s heart beating through what He’d made.  I’d been clutched by the fear that I had been left alone, that Jesus was out of my reach, but He split through that fear in the calm face of a deer.  
 

There is a voice that has been
speaking for thousands of years
 

There is a voice that has been speaking for thousands of years, vividly shouting truth about the Trinity.  It’s creation itself!  It speaks, not only in unlikely, holy moments with deer, but in each ordinary day.  The Father’s orchestration of weather patterns declares His utter capability.  His ink strokes on a beetle’s shell announce that He’s full of detailed care.  The underground layers of earth proclaim from beneath our feet how wisely He can build the foundations of our lives.  And the wild beauty of it all rings with the fact that He loves our delight.  We ought to take it all personally.  It’s all from His heart.  It’s all for us.

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Prompt:  Think of something in nature that you’re drawn to—a landscape, an animal, an element—and write about it in free form.  After this, ask the Father to tell you a secret about this part of creation.  Journal His voice.  Take this secret personally.  It’s from His heart.  It’s for you.

Sydnee MelaComment