What is it about the outdoors…about nature…about the mountains, the woods, the sea, and the sky?
I’ve heard it many times.
I’ve even heard it as an excuse to avoid church.
People say “I feel closer to God when I am in nature.”
Why is that?
Last week, I had a few days with my son before he left on a ten week summer mission trip. We traveled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and a small town called Grand Marais. It is my favorite place on earth. I talk a little more about that here.
Grand Marais is a small town (population 350) along the shores of Lake Superior. It is a safe harbor for ships on the great lakes. The pier that protects the harbor becomes a fishing hot spot every spring. Whitefish move into the bay and the pier is filled with fishermen.
Each spring, we make the journey across the Mackinaw Bridge to Grand Marais in hopes of a big catch. Sometimes, we hit it big. Sometimes, we do not. But, we always love the experience. The reason is simple.
If the fish are not biting, we revel in overwhelming beauty of the area.
Grand Marais is often referred to as a place with “nature in abundance.”
What does all this have to do with feeling closer to God in nature?
One night my son and I were out fishing off the pier. It had stormed most of the day, but was beginning to clear out. A strong wind was blowing from the south out toward Lake Superior. As the sun was setting over Superior, the scattered cloud formations were quickly moving and changing. We saw twenty different spectacular sunsets in one night. It was pure beauty and that beauty belonged to God.
Psalm 19:1-6 says:
“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 display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.”
The reason that we often feel closer to God in nature is simple. He is the Creator. He made all that you see. He made it stunning and it is all pointing us back to Him.
Nature “declares the glory of God.” Nature “proclaims the work of his hands.” Nature “pours forth speech.”
You feel close to God in nature because he is speaking to you and he is telling you about himself.
Nature reveals the glorious beauty of the one who imagined it all.
Nature reveals the power behind the storm.
Nature reveals the brilliance of the one who designed every system of every living thing.
Nature reveals the endless creativity of the Lord.
Nature reveals the generosity of the creator who even fills the unseen depths of the sea with remarkable diversity.
It all speaks and when you are in the midst of it, you feel close to God because he is helping you to get to know him and love him.
Exploring nature may not be a traditional spiritual discipline, but it is essential.
Get out and soak it in. Let the beauty of it fill your heart and bring you to worship.
God is shouting “I am glorious!” Listen for him.
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