“The LORD surrounds His people…” Or, “The LORD is His people’s environment,” because “to surround” is the same as “to environ”.
One’s environment isn’t just important, it is essential. When a bird is captured, caged and kept from its environment – the open air – it mourns. When a fish is taken out of its environment – water- it dies. So it is with man. When man is kept from his environment – God – he mourns and he dies.
It’s amazing really. Man is the only one of God’s creation that doesn’t know what’s good for him. He doesn’t realize or appreciate his own environment. The fish flees from the hook that would pull it from the water. The bird frantically attempts to evade and escape the net that would ensnare it. But not man. Man, it seems, is so easily led from his natural environment – from his water of life. He quickly turns from his true water for a bad imitation. He so willingly leaves the real freedom of the open air for a small bit of digitized, colorized space.
That’s why man, out of all of God’s creation, remains the most miserable. He’s not happy even when there’s nothing for him to be upset about. But, it isn’t enough just to have nothing to complain about, he needs something in which to rejoice. It isn’t enough simply to not have pain, there must be pleasure.
That’s what I see when I watch the simple creatures that my LORD has created. I see that they don’t just have the absence of pain – they rejoice. They dart through the water. They sing in the sky. They roam throughout the forest. They revel in the day’s glory.
So often I find that I’m not like these. But I see here that my soul can be. You see, my soul too has an environment. In fact, my soul is encompassed by an environment that surrounds it more completely than water does the fish or the sky envelops the bird. My God is all around me.
You see, the environment that surrounds other creatures consists of only one element, but my God is all in all. He can be seen everywhere. He is boundless in the water. He is infinite in the air. His majesty is clearly seen in the forest. There is nowhere that He is not, for He is truly the omnipresent God. So, don’t say, “I’ll be happy when I finally get to Heaven.” For God is as much here as there.
Why talk about the limits of this world? Your need here is not for there to be one less limit, but rather for there to be one limit more. If you desire to be happy here as well as everywhere then you must be limited – environed – only by God. He alone must become your water of life, the air of your freedom, the fire of your desire, and the land of your possession. He must constantly be behind you in memory, before you in expectancy and beside you in presence. He must be your vanguard and your rearguard, your right and your left, you working and your waiting, your running and your rest.
Doesn’t scripture say that when He breathed into man that man became a living soul? Then the only way for you to finally find your true environment will be when you have caught the breath of God.