In watching a Ken Burns documentary, one cannot deny the beauty of America’s landscape. Men have marveled for centuries over the bounty of beautiful places within our borders. The mountain men of old, explorers, adventurers, men of industry all had a part in the development of our National Parks, but God was the Originator, Designer and Craftsman, Creator of all of it. How anyone cannot see that it took one of superior intelligence, wisdom, genius, engineering and artistic ability to put it in place? Imagine how amazig it was before sin entered the world.
John Muir spent the greater part of his life exploring the wilderness. Raised in a strict religious family, with a preacher father that demanded him to memorize the entire Bible, may have led him to look for a different lifestyle. Maybe it was a rebellious spirit that drove hi to the great outdoors. Besides I think God can even use a rebellious spirit to bring us the truth. All that Bible memorization assisted him in penning some beautiful words of how we can see God within creation.
Listening to the voice of God as it roars in a raging waterfall, hearing the birds chirping the dawn of a new day, standing on the edge of a deep canyon or mountain and feeling God’s presence in the wind, rain and sunshine – these are all things that bring us closer to Him.
Now, here comes the “but” to the whole “making nature your house of worship” ideology. I get it that we live in an ugly world and to escape to natural places is healing, but it’s just a temporary fix. Hugging a tree isn’t going to wash away our sins, unless that tree is the cross. Dipping our toes in an icy stream won’t bring support and encouragement from fellow Christians. We still have to face the day to day drudgery of living. There is hope however in the very scriptures Muir was required to memorize.
Within those pages are words of comfort and hope in a dark and decaying world – words of the truth of our natural condition and the price paid to redeem us – truth of how much we need saving and how God in His love provided it.
Of course we can find a place to worship anywhere. The quietest prayers are always heard. The smallest closet can be as effective as a huge tabernacle. Peaceful moments in nature can salve an injured spirit, but the true healing comes from God’s own words to us in the Bible.