21 May, 2024

May 19 Application | ‘Something Greater than the Great Outdoors’

by | 13 May, 2024 | 1 comment

By David Faust 

What makes the great outdoors so great? Fresh air and wide-open spaces? Wildflowers and mountain vistas? Starry, moonlit nights? Sunrises and sunsets that paint the horizon with orange, pink, and purple? For me, the answer is “all of the above.”  

God has given me opportunities to travel widely (a blessing for which I am very grateful), so I have seen Yellowstone’s bison and bears, and its canyons, prairies, waterfalls, and geysers. I have gazed in awe at the Rockies, the Alps, and the Smokies. I have seen Japan’s Mount Fuji and Switzerland’s Matterhorn. I have watched eagles soar overhead while whales breach off the coast of Alaska. I have strolled the beaches of Florida and California, and watched waves crash on Maine’s rocky shore. I have seen vineyards in Germany and France where grapevines in orderly rows cling to steep cliffs sloping down to the river below.  

Earlier this year I walked through Ireland’s Mourne Mountains admiring the same pastel colors, crystal clear creeks, and lush green foliage that C. S. Lewis saw when he walked those trails while writing his Chronicles of Narnia. In that forest I noticed a boulder with words carved into its side. In large letters, someone had engraved this message on the stone: “STOP. Look around and praise the name of Him who made it all.” 

Camping Out 

Nature’s beauty points to God’s “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20).  

A hymn writer suggested these words for us to sing and pray: “Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.” As someone put it, “Nature is God’s Braille for a blind world.”  

Yet, ever since the Garden of Eden, the Creator has stamped these natural wonders with a solemn label: “Temporary.” Physical science and biblical theology agree that the earth is on a path to destruction.  

This world’s majesty and misery, glory and gore, dignity and disappointment, won’t last forever. Nor will all our buildings, money, and art. Whether we’re young or old, agile or fragile, healthy or sick, beautiful or plain, our bodies are headed toward death.  

The apostle Paul compared our bodies to tents—temporary dwelling places where we camp out for a while. “We groan and are burdened” (2 Corinthians 5:4) as we await the time when we will fold up the tents of our earthly bodies and be done with them; but we look forward to the “eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” that awaits us in the resurrection (vv. 1, 5). God has in store for us something far greater than the great outdoors. 

Breaking Camp 

If this fallen world still contains so much natural beauty, what will it be like in the “new heaven and a new earth” where there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:1, 4)? For Christians, death means breaking camp and exchanging the temporary tents of our mortal bodies for permanent mansions in glory. 

So, let’s get outdoors and enjoy God’s creation, and let’s be good stewards of it; but let’s never elevate temporary things above the Creator. Nature can point us to God, but it cannot replace him. This world—including its beautiful things—will pass away; but our hope rests in the everlasting Creator who delights in making things new.  

Personal Challenge: Go for a walk outdoors and notice the different ways God has revealed himself in nature. Praise the Lord for being not only the powerful Creator, but also your loving Father. 

_ _ _

David Faust’s new book, Not Too Old: Turning Your Later Years into Greater Years, was released April 10. It is available from College Press and Amazon. To read an article/excerpt from Not Too Old, click here.

1 Comment

  1. Loren C Roberts

    Yes, yes, yes.

    I often think about God’s wonderful creation and how we have marred it. Then I think about the ‘New Heavens and New Earth’ and how awesome it will be.

    Praise God, Jesus will return and make things right again.

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