I gasp as I catch my first glimpse of the majestic Rocky Mountains stretching their glistening white caps to the sky as our plane flies over them. Speechless I stand on the roof of our apartment in Ecuador, gazing at the sunset reflected on the shy peak Pichincha towering in front of me. I spontaneously burst into song as sakura petals flutter down from the trees and get caught in my hair as my family and I enjoy walking our dog in Kyotanabe. The huge grin on my brother's face matches mine as we reach the top of a sand dune and look down at the beautiful blue water breaking on a beach in Tottori Prefecture, Japan.
Beauty. Majesty. Scale. Power. Detail. Color. Life. Interconnectedness. Masterpiece.
Nature presents us with the clearest picture of God's handiwork and creation. Personally, as a nature lover, I feel close to God when I am surrounded by nature. However, I have yet to meet anyone who does not share this feeling. I was recently contemplating the reason for this as I rode in a van through the Cloud Forest of Ecuador, surrounded by monumental mountains and vast cloud blankets.
I feel close to God in nature, first of all, because I am surrounded by His creation. He directly created trees, mountains, and waterfalls; they were not created by someone He created. God created this world to show His power and to elicit praise from it. It is completely natural for us to feel close to God when we are surrounded by fellow created objects and people, since we are all born of His word.
Nature also causes me to feel God's presence because it directly reflects many of God's attributes. I can see God's beauty in the brilliant red and yellow hibiscus flowers, the purple and red streaked ocean and sky, the gorgeous eyes, smiles, and faces of people from all around the world. I can see God's majesty and constancy in the towering rugged mountains of Colorado, Ecuador, and Japan. I can see God's creativity and humor in my pets, playful Amazon monkeys, and the variety of plants, animals, fruits, and vegetables. I can see God's power in a roaring waterfall, a torrential thunderstorm, and a volcanic eruption. I can see God's gentleness and love in the way a mother loves her helpless infant, a hen covers her chicks with her wings, and flowers lose their petals one at a time.
I feel close to God in nature because I see the beauty, power, magnificence and creativity of the creation surrounding me and I know who to thank. The Creator of the universe and all this marvelous nature surrounding me is the same God who loves me so deeply that He gave up His Son so we could spend eternity together. He is the same God who calls me His child, who formed me in my mother's womb, and who knows the number of hairs on my head and days I will live on this earth.
I have grown up appreciating nature, thanks to my parents love for God's creation. My dad’s love of forestry and gardening grew my fascination for plants and my love for gardening, which was something special we did the two of us. My mom’s undying love and awe of nature gave me fresh eyes to see the world every day and appreciate simple things, like sunset walks.
Spending time appreciating nature and God's creation in all its different forms is a special way to commune with God and learn more about Him. I feel Isaiah 40 reflects this perfectly: “To whom will you compare me, or who is my equal? Says the Holy One. Life up your eyes to the heavens, who created these? He who brings out the stars one by one and calls them each by name, because of His might and strength not one is missing (v25-26).” Psalm 19 has been a favorite of mine also, because it is just direct praise of God's creation.
How often do we spend an extra minute to go look at the sunset or smell flowers by the road? I felt God speak very clearly to me through the majesty of the mountains in the cloud forest as we winded around mountain roads and also as I swung over treetops on a zip line. He is sovereign and greater than anything that looks like an obstacle to me. He has me in His hand and if He created all of this spectacular world, He can certainly take care of me.