Sensing God's Presence in Nature
Beholding the beauty of nature can awaken our sense of something greater than ourselves. Taking in the splendor of a fall day with its myriad of colors around us may awaken an awareness within that God is present with us.
In her book on Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, Ruth Haley Barton shares that as she exercised outdoors, she "began to experience those moments as times of significant connection with God through through the expansiveness of the creation, the beauty of nature, and [her] gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy God" (1).
In addition to God's presence in nature, the Psalmist David caught glimpses of God's greatness in this setting and declares in one of his Psalms:
Your loyal love, O God, extends to the skies,
your faithfulness reaches the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the strongest mountains,
your justice is like the deepest sea.
Psalm 36:5-6 (CEB)
A couple of months ago, this Psalm of David caught my attention, especially the part about God's faithfulness reaching the clouds. For days afterward as I would look skyward, I would notice the clouds and be reminded of the faithfulness of God in my own life. Then one day, on my way to a conference in Arizona, I happened to glance out of the airplane window and witnessed a multitude of fluffy small clouds over the desert. Both delighted and deeply touched by them, I captured the scene on my phone camera:
God seemed to be saying to me, "My faithfulness extends beyond what you could ever imagine."
Have you had the opportunity to spend time enjoying nature recently? Is there any setting that helps you feel close to God? Walking and enjoying nature can give us fresh perspectives about what is going on in our lives and around us. Ruth Haley Barton writes that the first time she "took a hike in the woods for the express purpose of paying attention to manifestations of God through nature...all of the sudden many things that had seemed so important shrank to a more appropriate size" in her mind (2). I encourage you to spend some time outdoors today and take in the beauty of nature.
1. Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 83.
2. Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms, 87.