Connecting with God through nature.
The nature pathway is an opportunity to engage with who God is as the creator of God’s good creation. In scripture, there are many different examples of nature being used as an important metaphor. Consider the “tree of life” in Genesis, or God bringing people through the “valley” or the “wilderness”. Jesus often taught outside and thus it is not surprising that he often references nature: vines, branches, fig trees, sheep…
In scripture we see people encountering God on a mountain top, through a burning bush and people declaring their faith in Jesus by being baptized in a river, lake or sea. God can speak to us through creation if we are willing to take the time to notice and listen.
Nature can remind us of so many aspects of who God is: beautiful, powerful and majestic. The large trees, mountains and lakes remind us just how big God is – but when we look closely at the fine lines of a fallen leaf or the details of a flower – we remember how God cares about the smallest of details. Jesus said in Luke 12 – during what has become known as the “sermon on the mount”:
“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”
As we listen to God through nature – may we come to know even deeper how God cares for every detail of our lives.
Reforesting Faith: What Trees Teach Us About the Nature of God and His Love for Us
Stewards of Eden: What Scripture Says About the Environment and Why It Matters
When the Trees Say Nothing – Writings On Nature
Living an Icon: A Program for Growing Closer to Creation and To God
The Art of God by Ric Ergenbright (author and photographer)
Podcasts and Videos:
Humans are Trees? – Podcast Series
The Bible Project Creation Series of Videos
Mill City So Will I Worship Video
Equipping Opportunities: www.MillCityChurch.com/equipping
Bible Reading Plans:
Lessons From Nature Seasons and Spirit – 5 Day Plan
God in the Beauty of Nature – 5 Day Plan
Reforesting Faith – 5 Day Reading Plan
Five to Ten Minute Reflection Experiment
- Head outside near where you live or work.
- Look around and choose just one plant or tree from the landscaping around you.
- Go up close to the plant, or tree, look at as many facets of the object as you can. Step back and observe it in its entirety – then move closer and look at even the finest details.
- What does this observation tell you about God as creator?
- Consider how much God cares about the details of creation? What does this mean about God’s care for you?
God’s Majestic Nature Experiment
- Grab a journal and find at least a half hour where you can go near to one of the following: a large body of water (river, lake), a very large tree, an overlook where you are able to see a large portion of natural scenery. Reflect on the following:
- Consider the power and beauty that you are witnessing before you and reflect on the power and beauty of God, who created what you are witnessing.
- Reflect on how powerful God must be to have created all this, as well as you as a complex human being.
- How have you seen God’s power in your life?
- Where in your life do you need God’s strength currently?
- Listen and see if you sense anything God may be saying to you.
Outside First Experiment
- For at least a week, try to go outside every day within the first 15 minutes of when you wake up. Even if it is just for 5 minutes and no matter what the weather. Ask these reflection questions:
- How does what you experience in those moments “declare the glory of God”?
- Notice how this changes your approach to your day.
Neighborhood Resonate Walk
- This experiment is designed to help you see deeper into the world right around you in your every day spaces. We often pass through our own neighborhoods without noticing what is right around us.
- Take 15 minutes and walk from your home or workplace around the neighborhood.
- Using a smart phone or camera take photos of what “resonated” with you. Anything that seems to draw your attention. Pay specific attention to nature – but no need to restricte your photos to only nature.
- Notice how nature and the built environment collide.
- Then as you walk, pray and ask God if there is anything you feel like God is saying to you.
- When you arrive back at your original location, look back over your photos and wonder why it was that image resonated with you.
- Ask again for God to reveal to you anything God might want to say to you.