Finding God in the Great Outdoors
Something that makes up a big part of my life is my love for the outdoors. I could sit on a lakeshore with a fishing pole for hours on end, just me, God, and the water. This is how I relax.
If I had a hard test? Drive to the lake
If I got into a fight with my family? Go take a hike
If life just isn’t going the way I want it to? Go climb a mountain.
If everything is going well, but I just want to have a good time? I spend it outside in nature.
I spend a lot of time outside. The first time I ever knew without a doubt that God is real, back before I got saved, was when I was outside. So that’s what I want to talk about.
In my family, the tradition is when a boy turns 12 years old, he gets a shotgun for his birthday, and then gets the privilege of getting to go deer hunting. When we go hunting, we load up the camper, and head south for a few days. Our spot is on top of a mountain, but we don’t take vehicles up the mountain. My family is among the only people in the world who are crazy enough to climb up this mountain, shoot a deer, and then carry it out on our backs. We don’t use sleds or ATVs. We use our own manpower. And we move when it’s dark, so that we don’t waste daylight when we could be looking for deer.
This has always been a sort of rite of passage for our family. We weren’t expected to kill deer, and if we did it was because God wanted us to have one. We didn’t hunt because we needed the food, it was simply because we loved to do it. We always prayed for safety when we set out, and we thanked God when we got a kill. The deer was then sent to the butcher and everybody involved got the same amount of meat.
When I was 12, I was kind of just going through the motions. I was raised in church, but I wasn’t sure about God, and it was all just too much for me to fathom.
We climbed the mountain, and I was exhausted. It was the weekend before Christmas, and I thought I was going to freeze to death! I couldn’t wait until we got to go to bed.
However, as we got to the top of the mountain, it was like God opened my eyes for the first time of the entire weekend. As the sun was coming up, nature was waking up as well. I started seeing all the squirrels, and a rabbit. I saw the deer tracks in the snow. We sat down on our stools, and before long, I saw a snowy owl land on the tree in front of me. I watched as a squirrel climbed a tree, grabbed some nuts, and then ran away. It was beautiful!
Then I started thinking. Is this random? Is the big bang and evolution really a thing? Or is there really a Master Creator? I looked at it from both sides, and finally found my answer. There is no way that a world this beautiful could be the random product of a “big bang”. There is no way that any of this could be random. There is not a single doubt in my mind that God created everything around us, and that we are also his creation. I would not get saved for another four years (I struggled with working my way into Heaven. More on that another time), but I knew in that moment that there was something out there that was much greater than I am.
In such a chaotic world, with plenty of ups and downs, I am so thankful that I learned to appreciate the world around me, which I can always escape to should the need arise.