My sister and I were at the beach, just the two of us for a few days of girl time. Both of us were in desperate need of a break. Exhausted from being overscheduled, saddened by friends in crisis, frazzled when thinking about what was on our plates. We felt depleted, down, empty.
Often when I feel this way I run to God’s creation. Taking time to study His creation has a way of filling up those places in my soul that are running on empty. I need His beauty. Our brains were created with a longing for beauty. And in beauty we experience comfort.
I have found 3 ways that nature comforts me.
Restores my perspective.
Walking along the shores of the vast ocean reminds me of how very small I am. Yet too often I allow my issues-a concern over a child, stress over a decision I don’t know how to make, worry about a friend in trouble, etc. become bigger in my mind than God is. And if I’m already tired, I’m even more vulnerable to my imagination going haywire, trending to the negative.
I need to steal away and let God’s creation overwhelm me. Walking alone by the ocean I feel His vast arms encircle me. I hear Him whisper, “Susan, see how vast and how BIG I am. I’ve got all these things. I’ve got you, and I adore you.” Gazing at His creation restores my perspective.
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:16-18 NIV)
Reveals His Beauty.
Being alone in nature allows us an opportunity to lay aside our cares and focus on His beauty.
It’s difficult to lay aside our anxious thoughts unless we have something else to replace these thoughts. Focusing on His creation will revive us by the power of His beauty. But we must be intentional and pay attention to what we see. This takes discipline. And time.
Recently on a hike on the Appalachian Trail I almost missed a gift. I was so focused on what was ahead and getting there that I almost stepped on a turtle. Multiple colors and varieties of fall leaves covered the trail and this turtle’s matching colors blended in with the ruts of the path.
Stooping down, I studied him. A creature who carries his house on his back. The colors of the roof of his house blending in with nature. His tiny head looking about and quickly receding if disturbed. Studying my turtle, I was reminded of God’s attention to detail. He knows when even one sparrow falls. (Matthew 10:29-31), His incredible beauty is so easy to miss. There is a power in His beauty, beauty that brings comfort when we reflect on His tender care.
Reminds me of His Faithfulness.
When I’m out in nature I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness. Seasons come and go. Day and night continue. New growth appears; tired branches fall and die. Creation remains. We can count on creation. This stability comforts me by reminding me that I can count on Him. I don’t know what’s ahead, but He does. And He will be there with me, no matter what. “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
God has given us the gift of imagination. If misused our imagination gets us into trouble with anxious thoughts about “what if’s.” This leads to fear and worry. Spending time in God’s creation gives us an opportunity to imagine the beginnings. What must it have been like for God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit at creation? (Genesis 1:26 uses the word us in describing the Trinity at creation.)
What fun they must have had creating such beauty. How they must have laughed as they designed crazy animals. And what about colors and textures. And…
Imagining them in their joy at creation brings comfort. We are reminded that the Father is joyful, and He is in control. He is a God of beauty and a God of pure love who delights in the well-being of His servant. (Psalm 35:27b) He is faithful.
Bringing it home:
“Father, help me this week to set aside time to be alone with you in nature and to really study your creation. In your beauty reveal to me aspects of your character that I have forgotten.
Reassure me that you’ve got me. I need to remember that you are faithful. And I need to rest in your comfort.
Sharing with the next generations:
Read Genesis 1 together. (You might like to read from the Message or your favorite version.)
Pick one section and design a play, acting out what that part of creation might have been like. Use your imagination. If you have a group of kids, divide into teams and present your play to each other. You can find costumes if you want and add music and dancing. Allow for freedom and much creativity.
Ask the kids:
“What phrase in creation is repeated over and over?”
(God saw that it was good.)
“What do you learn about God’s personality from this chapter?”
“Today, what are you thankful for in His creation?”