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Diving Deeper | Nature

Admittedly, I have never been much of an outdoors person. I grew up in New Jersey and didn’t spend much time in the elements. Due to some of the factors that come with being outdoors, like bugs, weather, and the unpredictability of nature, I would say that it just wasn’t relaxing for me. When we lived in California, my wife and I were invited to vacation in Wyoming. On this trip, the Lord broke through in a significant way. The Lord began speaking to me when we drove past the state line. We stayed in a friend’s guest house, and one morning, when I was looking out from the front porch, I saw the most beautiful mountain view I’d ever seen. The hills were covered with the vivid colors accompanying autumn’s arrival. A gentle stream flowed through the property, and the sound had an incredible calming effect. I went for a run on trails lined with beautiful trees and wildflowers. The sounds, the smells, and the fresh air captivated me and moved me deeply. God began showing Himself to me in ways I’d never experienced before. I had been missing out big time. I became aware of God’s presence in a new and vibrant way.

Many people contend that we can best connect with the reading of Scripture when we read it outdoors, and it’s hard to argue. The Bible is saturated with imagery, stories, and analogies related to nature. The Bible even begins with a story about a garden! Think of all the references to us as sheep, God as the Great Shepherd, or the metaphor Christ uses of the vine and the branches. These are only a few of hundreds of references in the Scriptures that deal directly with nature. When we only find ourselves in modern urban and developed areas, we miss a portion of the beauty of creation that contributes to our understanding of Him. Being out in nature can help break the monotony of how our culture understands the worship experience. Many of our church gatherings occur in buildings that don’t have windows or have the windows blacked out. 

Remembering the God of all creation when we are outside experiencing His creation is helpful. For some, taking a run or a hike and listening to the sounds of nature brings clarity of thought and heart. For others, a kayak ride on a river or fishing out on a lake makes space to drink deeply of His presence. Being outdoors can awaken our senses and bring vibrancy to our understanding of the intricate way God has created us. The outdoors can also be a perfect place to engage in meditation, a prime example of how the rhythms can work together. 

When talking about the significance of the rhythm of nature, we would be remiss not to mention Romans 1:20: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse.” The Bible is explicit in its reminder that the truth of God is visible and available to us in nature. It’s essential to make a distinction here between this and panentheism. Panentheism is a doctrine that identifies God with the universe or regards the universe as a manifestation of God. Many times, panentheists will have a strong identification with nature as God. This is a critical point of awareness but should not be enough to dissuade us from practicing the presence of the one true God in His creation.

To learn more about the spiritual discipline of engaging nature, check out the seventh episode of QAVA’s Reset series.

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