Ever since I was young, I have lived near a creek with a stunning greenway trail. When my siblings and I were little, we would swim in the creek, and go on family bike rides down the trail. Each Thanksgiving, we would bundle up for the cold – and often rainy – Turkey Trot run where friends and neighbors would scurry along the same creek. As I have grown older, this creek has become a special place for me; a place to run, walk, sit, think, talk, pray and, without fail, delight in nature. Especially in this season, taking time to delight in nature can be both a therapeutic and worshipful experience.
Look Up and See the Birds
Sometimes when I take a walk on the creek trail, I turn down my music to hear the medley of birds singing around me. I take a deep breath as the wind makes the grasses blow back and forth. I realize that no matter how pressing my worries are, there is so much more to life than my own personal bubble. My creek has trained me to look outside of myself and observe reality around me. Oftentimes, this puts my worries and plans into perspective. I am reminded of what Jesus was teaching in Matthew 6: 26, 30-33 when he said,
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?.....But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Nature teaches us about God’s care and provision for our every need. We can learn so much from the birds and the grass!
Changing Seasons and Steady Streams
Each time I take a walk on the creek trail, I stop to take a picture in the exact same spot. From this place, I can see the creek winding along grassy banks, pointing toward a towering mountain in the distance. Sometimes, the mountain is covered by clouds or fog. Sometimes the water is high and fast. Sometimes the grass is dry and dead. Other times, the sky is blue and fresh, revealing a snow-capped peak. Regardless of the season, the creek is still there. I love each scene because they remind me that even in change there is beauty and constancy.
To me, the changing of the seasons represents different seasons in my life while the consistency of the creek trail shows the steadfast and unchangeable nature of God. Sometimes life is bright and clear, other times it is foggy and gloomy. If I focus on the weather of my circumstances, I will miss what is most important: the creek still flows, the mountain still stands and God can not be shaken. Too often, I get caught up in the small details of my day to day life. The creek has taught me to remember that through the constant changes in life, God always remains our source of life, hope and peace.
Delighting in nature is like visiting an art gallery and becoming enthralled with a remarkable painting, or visiting a concert hall and listening to a meticulously crafted musical piece. For me, the creek is like a painting, and the birds, frogs and wind are the music. Nature is God’s canvas, his artistic vision. When I look at the array of leaves on trees and the way the creek babbles along the rocks, I see his mighty handiwork and unmatched creativity. I am humbled by how small and incapable I am to make something so intricate. I will often stop at different points along the trail to look at plants and animals that I find. I have started to use this as a time to praise God for his beauty and character, thanking him for whatever is on my heart.
Returning to the Creek
We often forget the importance of nature’s teaching. By spending time at my creek, I have seen the ways that God has taught me about myself, my need for him and his perfectly crafted plans. Now I try, each time I am in nature, to practice learning from and praising God. And this is not just me! King David, in Psalm 19:1 said,
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
God made nature for our enjoyment, but more importantly as a testimony of his glory.
I encourage you to spend some time in nature. As you engage with nature, be intentional about how you respond. When you see the birds of the air and the swaying grass, do you recall that God will provide for all your needs? When you watch the fog roll in or the sun blaze above, do you remember that God is constant through every season? When you watch the worms creep along the ground or see the patterns of each leaf, do you stand in awe of the matchless power and artistry of God? I urge you, each day, to let the creation around you teach you more and more about God, his control and his incredible care for you.
Written by Sarah Morgan (Human Biology, ‘21), Student Wellness Intern.