Written by Arlin Goodwin
In our age of technology, the gap is growing between humankind’s love of nature and our disregard for it. Not only does this disconnect have implications for our physical life on earth but for our emotional and spiritual life as well.
Being a Christian means we look at life holistically; we work towards physical, emotional and spiritual health. When we disconnect from nature I believe we lose a portion of our health. Think of the garden of Eden! God’s perfect plan in the beginning was God + man + nature. Does it get better than that? As an outdoor lover, I have heard from Dad the most clearly and experienced the deepest revelation of who He is when I’m in Nature.
Why is it that nature can speak to us so overwhelmingly clearly of a God who loves and cares for us? Well, what is our original purpose? If you haven’t figured that out yet I will give you my spoiler: relationships. In the beginning God was already a relationship in the Trinity. He made nature first—also a form of relationship since creation is the echo of the loving care of a detailed Father and the majestic might of the all-powerful God. The fact that nature is an original expression of Dad’s creativity, just as we are, is a strong contender for why nature can show us so much about who He is.
When I was 18 I started actually following Jesus, not just believing in Him. I had finished school in China and had no idea what to do next. I took a day to go out into the hills surrounding the city to seek the Father for my next step. Who knew taking a day off and spending it with Dad in nature could change my life! Now, I have been living in China for seven years and am following the dreams the Father has given me—all because of one encounter in nature, which I have repeated again and again throughout my adventures.
How can we use this knowledge of nature’s relationship with the Father to help further our own relationship with Him? Let me give you some tips about things I’ve learned in my adventures. First, go take a walk in a park or somewhere that’s quiet and pick up a leaf or stick or stone or any part of nature that has been created by the Creator. As you walk or sit, think and look closely at this creation and ask yourself two things. One, what does this creation tell me about the Creator? Two, what does this creation tell me about what the Creator thinks of me?
“Nature is an original expression of Dad’s creativity”
Another way, and my personal favourite, is to go on a camping trip with friends. Instead of telling ghost stories around the campfire, bring up topical subjects like the history of the Church, the role of Christians in society, in politics, the military, etc. There is something about sitting beside a campfire in the woods and talking about life that can bring us to think outside of our own little worlds.
A friend told me this story from his own life. He had been struggling with who the Father is and his own identity in this world, so one day he went out to a stream and started skipping rocks across it in frustration. He was thinking of all the things he could “do” for the Father to be a good Christian but was still feeling like something was missing.
All of a sudden, he felt the Father ask him, “Can I skip rocks with you?” At first, he was thinking, “Why would you do that, there is so much work to do and you just want to skip rocks with me?” Once again, he felt that soft, gentle voice ask, “Can I skip rocks with you?”
I hope we can all make time to skip rocks with the Father. He’s all about doing that with you because He is a God of relationship!