There’s a fury in nature. Raw terror in hurricanes, tsunamis, fires, tornados.
Through nature we witness God’s terrifying power. He is not a placid God. He is God Almighty who can move a mountain, flood a plain, calm a storm.
His power can cause us to fear but at the same time, strangely, this power can comfort us and give us a sense of security. We can’t really worship an impotent being. Our souls long for an all-powerful Savior, not one we can control.
Once on a hike on the Appalachian Trail my friend Melody and I were caught in a hailstorm. We huddled in the downpour praying and at one point laughing out loud at our situation. Yes. We were a little scared, but we also marveled at the power being exhibited around us. (We later learned that multiple cars in a nearby town had windows broken by the strength of the hail.)
It reminded us of the story of Jesus in a storm with His disciples. They were rowing across the lake while he slept. Suddenly a furious storm came up washing waves over the boat. The disciples woke him up and said,
“Lord, save us; we are going to drown!”
Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him.” (Matthew 8:23-27)
Nature reveals God’s power and in this revelation we find security and comfort. We are reassured that nothing or no one is greater than our God nor can any one of us control Him.
As I write, a big thunderstorm rages. Lightning flashes. Birds fall silent, beautiful butterflies on my purple butterfly bush disappear. A downpour erupts. All is silenced except the crashing of thunder. Slowly, softly a steady rain settles in and in time we forget the fury. An inaudible feeling of calm returns.
No matter what nature does, the earth remains. Day dawns, night falls. Seasons come and go. God remains. He is reliable. He is stable. He is our one security. Chaos will come and go but He remains the same. We can count on Him.
God is not bound by seasons or storms.
His message (the gospel) does not change but His methods are always changing. He is continuously creative.
The writer to the Hebrews says it this way, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) God’s methods of communicating with us are ever changing while His message remains the same. This is an important lesson for church leaders as well.
Nature reveals to us the consistent character of God while delighting us with His everchanging creative ways of working. He does not run out of ideas! He is working while we are waiting.
Sometimes I sit and watch my Golden Retriever Charley observe God’s creation. His nostrils twitch, his nose flares at unusual smells, and the numerous hairs on his chin and nose act as antennas. (Dogs actually have 300 million olfactory receptors compared to 6 million in humans.) His eyes have a larger peripheral range than ours do. Sitting quietly on a bench in the pasture at dusk I watch him watch nature. He seems to study it. I tell myself that I want to become more watchful of God’s creation. I too want to study it. I long to see how His nature reveals His character in fresh new ways.
Here’s a song that will help us focus on His mighty creation:
“Where were you?” by The Porter’s Gate
Bringing it home:
“Father, help me make time to sit quietly and study your world. Relieve my mind of my concerns and help me to focus on you and your creation. Reveal to me things that I have not noticed before and show me ways they reflect aspects of your character.”
Sharing with the next generations:
Explain to your children or grandchildren that you are going to have a “delight in nature”
event. Sit together and take 5-10 minutes in silence to study God’s creation around you. Pray with the kids about this special time before you begin.
In the silence, each person chooses their own 2-3 things to observe.
Ask yourself, “what is unusual about this? What colors, shapes, textures do I like? Is there something special God is revealing to me about Himself through what I see?
(One of the things I often think about is how God must love to laugh. Just observe some of his weird, funny looking creatures!)
Share with one another your discoveries.
Read more from Author and speaker Susan Alexander Yates in Nature Sings: A New Season and the five part series Finding God in the Wilderness. Additionally, Susan shares encouragements for all seasons of life on her website susanalexanderyates.com