Modern life is full of distractions. From social media to television (or streaming services), to video games and more, most our everyday lives in 2021 are inundated with attention-grabbing and time-wasting stuff. While these may be among the most prominent distractions we face in our highly technological and entertainment-obsessed culture, other distractions remain that are far more endemic to our modern lives that can keep us from enjoying, appreciating and even worshipping our surroundings.
God has made a beautiful world. And like an artist with a blank canvas, He has filled this world with a vast array of diverse, colorful and awe-inspiring wonders. He tells us in Genesis 1 and 2 about how, in His perfect wisdom and goodness, He undertook and carried out this beautiful plan of creation, bringing forth oceans, seas, land, sky, mountains, valleys and all of the living creatures that inhabit them. But the best part of this beautiful world is what we are told at the end of the creation narrative: that God made this world and all of its beauty for us.
God entrusted Adam and Eve with the privilege and responsibility of enjoying this creation, not only functionally, by cultivating the earth and being sustained through its produce, but also aesthetically, by enjoying the sheer beauty of creation as the gift that it is, and the reminder of God’s love for us.
If the world around us and all of its natural beauty is a reflection of God’s beauty, power and goodness, and was given to us specifically to enjoy and cultivate as one of the central tasks of image-bearers of God, how well are we doing? As Christians in our modern, everyday lives, how well are we appreciating nature and its beauty? How often are we looking at the blue sky of day or the starlit sky of night and pondering the greatness of our God? As the leaves are changing and beginning to fall, are we stopping to consider, like the writer of Ecclesiastes, that for everything there is a season and a time? Do we allow the diversity of creation to remind us that we serve a Triune God? When hiking through a forest teeming with life, do we remember that our God is the source of all things and is a God of life?
Earlier we mentioned that modern life has more distractions than just social media and entertainment. In our hyper-developed and urbanized society, many of us live and/or work in cities and suburban areas. And while living in these developed settings is not morally wrong or sinful in the least, it can prove to be yet another distraction of which we should be mindful as Christians. When our surroundings are dominated, day-in and day-out, by buildings, streets, signs and stoplights, we can easily forget the simple yet beautiful reminder we have of God’s goodness and His greatness: nature.
If we aren’t careful, we can become victims of our surroundings and miss out on God’s creation and all the many ways it can teach us, encourage us and revitalize us. We weren’t meant to be totally isolated from creation and the benefits with which this incredible gift provides us. We were meant to enjoy it and allow it to grow in us an awe and wonder at the beauty of our God, like a man who witnesses a remarkable work of art and considers the greatness of its maker.
If our surroundings can teach us, encourage us, or distract us, how are we as Christians going to make sure we don’t neglect God’s creation and ensure that we are appreciating and being encouraged by nature? There are countless ways to incorporate this practice into our lives. But what if you don’t like hiking? Or what if you want to travel the world and see more of God’s creation, but don’t have the budget to go on expensive trips?
While it’s true that there are many of us who have real obstacles to many of these options, if you’re serious about setting aside more time to be in nature, then you can certainly find practical ways to make it happen. If you don’t love hiking, try something less strenuous like a walk in the park. If your weekdays are too busy to do nature activities, try camping on the weekend. Or, even if you don’t want to go anywhere at all, go outside on a clear night, look at the stars and praise God as Creator and Designer of the universe.
There are many ways to avoid becoming too distracted by our urban surroundings. And just taking time to pause and contemplate the beauty of a hummingbird, or the greatness of an oak tree, or the color of autumn is half the battle.
However, if you are someone who has always wanted to travel and explore God’s creation outside of your immediate surroundings, then you should consider visiting one or more of the many National Parks in this beautiful country. You could take a trip to Niagara Falls, Yellowstone, or the Great Smoky Mountains without having to spend weeks of your time or thousands of dollars to experience it. Moreover, if this is something you’re interested in, Faith Driven Consumer™ (FDC), would love to help you accomplish it. Through our FDC Marketplace we are currently offering our Marketplace Members multiple ways to save money on trips to U.S. National Parks. Just click here and check it out if you’re interested!
Psalm 19 (ESV) says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” So, whether you’re going to Yellowstone, Niagara, the local park or simply your backyard, make a point to consider the wonder and beauty of God’s creation. Be intentional about being in nature. Allow it to encourage you, awe you, and inspire you. Let it point you back to your Creator and stir you to praise and worship Him for His glory revealed in creation.