The Gift of Discovery

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By: Traci Payne

A few years ago, I was struggling with recurring thoughts about a situation that, when dwelled upon, caused me to experience a wide array of negative emotions. The feelings of rejection, sadness, guilt, fear, and not being good enough came out of nowhere. Since I’m not a fan of such a barrage of unpredictable and spontaneous thoughts such as these, I constantly fought to turn it over to God. 

During one particularly rough week, I found myself having to push the thoughts away more and more and began praying that God would give me a truth to think about and turn to instead. I knew God would answer this prayer— I just had to pay attention

It was just a couple of days later when I happened to land upon a random instrumental (secular) satellite radio station in my car, and I heard an old familiar tune. It was a hymn, actually, and one I hadn’t heard in years. I began singing the words “This Is My Father’s World” as it continued playing. 

I had to laugh as the memories came flooding back of my seven-year-old self being mad about having to sing a solo in church because I was too scared to tell the choir director “no” when she asked me. Since I couldn’t talk my church-pianist mom into helping me back out of this obligation, I finally gave up, picked out my favorite song from the hymnal, and she accompanied me as I practiced. Over and over and over.

Maybe the repetition of performance anxiety seared these verses in my brain, but all these years later, they resonate deeply within me. Only the One who created me knows how much—over 40 years later—the words of this old hymn would penetrate my soul. Only the One who made me love nature so much would use a memory like this in the healing process when I asked for something to distract me. 

As I later looked up the words and read each one, my mind recalled photos I had taken that supported nearly every line of the hymn. Here are the words I read that day:

“This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.”

This is my Father’s world,

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world,

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass, I hear Him pass;

He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

The Battle is not done:

Jesus who died shall be satisfied, 

And earth and heaven be one.

Babcock, Maltbie. “This Is My Father’s World.” Baptist Hymnal, Convention Press, 1956, p. 59.

Only my Father in Heaven would know that I would grow up one day to love nature photography and capturing all the things He created. He knew how I would stand on the bank of a river and awe just how water moves until a giant rock breaks its path. He knew I would be fascinated with how tiny the feathers around a bird’s eye could be and wonder why monarch butterflies have hairy backs. He knew how I would marvel one day at the color of a single blooming rose and how seeing the sun’s golden rays on—well, basically anything in nature—would thrill me. He knew this because He created me to connect with Him in this way.  

He certainly answered my prayer that day! Not only did He distract me by bringing to my mind a memory that made me laugh, but I also received the revelation of just why I love photography so much! He did it! He put that in me to connect me to Him decades later! Not only did He distract me, but I was also now overwhelmed with thankfulness and awe

I can share this story with you because I’m not any more special than you are! What delights your soul at its very core? What makes your heart leap? To want to dwell? To marvel? To anticipate with excitement? What brings you joy that’s hard to explain?  

If you can’t come up with an answer to these questions, don’t get frustrated or give up. Consider it a challenge to pursue Him more. Trust Him that He is good and created you on purpose and for a purpose, and He will be found when you seek Him (Jeremiah 29:11-14). Seek Him each morning before your toes hit the floor, knowing and trusting that you’re loved without doing one thing. Ask Him to direct you throughout the day and open your eyes to His work, for His promises still apply to your life.