The previous eight blog in this series have established that the visible world of nature offers glimpses into the unseen, spiritual side of reality. Wild nature introduces spiritual seekers to some of God’s fundamental divine qualities, in particular that God exists, but also insight into his character, creative genius, love for the human race and nonhuman life, and fervent desire for all people seek and find him.
Since knowledge about God is beyond the purview and limits of science, knowledge from God revealed through nature greatly surpasses anything we can learn from science. George Washington Carver (1864-1943) captured this idea when he wrote, “Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.”
This is not to say that the empirical science is unimportant in terms of understanding God’s general revelation in nature. In fact, as we’ll see in later blogs, science corroborates general revelation and enhances our wonder of nature. Indeed, studying nature can increase our faith in God. But I am saying that in order to gain knowledge about God through nature, it requires us to look at nature more as a poet than a scientist. This means we must be mindful of—and alert to—the sensory feelings, images, reflections, and insights wild nature conjures up.
Time spent in nature can awaken sensations and feelings that often lie dormant and unexpressed in the human heart, in particular the desire to think about and worship God. Wild nature’s majesty and grandeur softens inflated self-esteem, humbles tendencies toward self-exaltation, eases stress, and offers peace to troubled souls. Nature can be a place for spiritual and emotional retreat and renewal. Jesus himself, when the pressures of ministry became great, withdrew to lonely places to pray, to be refreshed (Mark 1 35; Luke 6:12) and sometimes just to be by himself (John 6:15). And he taught his disciples to do the same thing (Mark 6:30-31). We’ll see how all these and many other experiences in nature play in later blog articles.
Is God’s self-disclosure in nature just for Christians, or can anyone seeking truth about God encounter the only living God actually revealed in nature? This will be the topic in next week’s blog article. ©