I don’t know about you, but for me there’s just something soul-healing about a deep breath of fresh springtime air. After the novelty of snow has turned into winter weariness, the first signs of spring’s new life fill me with joy, peace, refreshment, hope. And it’s not because the air itself has some magical power—rather it’s because God speaks to us through his world, ever reiterating his Word in echoing messages of grace.
Our natural world—from the dirt under our feet to the canopy of galaxies above our heads—proclaims deep and eternal Truth. What many theologians (and Galileo, by the way) have called God’s “second book,” the environment in which we live speaks to us.
It speaks to us not in a pagan or New Age or spiritualist way—but in the way the Bible makes abundantly clear, again and again. Consider . . .“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 reveal knowledge. They have no speech; they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
And . . .“[W]hat may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
This truth coursing throughout all of Scripture is a foundational tenant of creation care: We can discover God, learn about God, and experience God’s presence in and through God’s created world.
For me, when I get busy or stressed or too self-important, time in nature sets me straight. Looking up at the clouds humbles me, reminding me of my smallness—and renewing my wonder at God’s love for me. (“What is man that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4).) Gazing at the intricate beauty of a flower leaves me in awe, reminding me of God’s artistry. Listening, in a bit of fear, to the tumult of a tornado-wielding thunderstorm renders me—Job-like—in a proper sense of fear, recognizing the power that is beyond, so beyond, my finite comprehension. Glimpsing a deer family through the trees in the nature preserve near my house speaks to me of God’s tender care for all of his creatures, from ants to eagles to whales to newts. And it reminds me, too, of my creatureliness—for I, like the deer, rely upon the God-made sustenance of planet Earth to live and to thrive.
How have you experienced this biblical truth? How has God revealed his character, his values, his power, his very existence to you through his created world? How does time spent in nature (even just a 10-second pause to breathe deep spring’s bounty) re-align your soul to the reality of God’s presence and God’s love?