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As frequent visitors to the North Georgia mountains, my wife developed a love for the outdoors.  Though we are particularly fond of the North Georgia area, we were living in South Georgia, about as far away from those mountains that we loved without leaving the state.  Even so, South Georgia has a beauty of its own with its flatlands, farms, cotton fields, rivers, creeks, etc.  And while we feel our love for the outdoors began in North Georgia, it certainly compelled us to get out and explore more of South Georgia, too.  As our passion for the outdoors grew, so too did our love for God’s magnificent creation!

That God is the Creator of the world may be disputed by some, we are not in that camp.  In fact, we believe God’s Word with all of our heart and I hold to the belief that he created it in six literal days, while resting on the seventh.  With that being said, my post today isn’t an explanation as to why I believe that, rather, it is about how God has used nature (and His Word) to bring revival to my heart in times when I need it most.  My friends have likely heard me utter the phrase that our trips out into nature brings me back to the center.  Of course, that means refocusing my life on the One that is in the center, and around which everything else revolves.  Simply put, God seems to use nature to bring me back to a proper perspective.  Furthermore, I have identified at least two ways that He does this: quiet time and Scripture.

When we venture outside, whether it be on one of our many camping trips, hiking adventures, kayaking or canoeing, I find myself away from the noise of every day life.  The beauty of what we are doing quickly causes life’s concerns to fade off into the distance.  Thus, it is here that I begin to regain a little bit of focus.  That’s not to say that I totally lose perspective of that which I’m trying to get away from, but I mean that it helps me fill the need to rest.  And if rest wasn’t important for us, then God wouldn’t have stressed it throughout his Word.  When I think of this, I find myself taken back to one of our earliest of camping trips at Vogel State Park in Blairsville, Georgia.  In what could probably be described as a watershed moment in my life, the light seemed to come on while I sat in my camp chair early one morning around daybreak.  As a deer made its way through my campsite, totally aware of my presence and without fear, I admired its beauty.  It was graceful, beautiful, and appeared to be at peace.  I was amazed and quiet.  Amazed that I was that close to such a lovely creature, and quiet so as to not startle her.  And when I was quiet, I started to hear a still, small voice whispering deep within my soul.  Drifting off into reflection, my attention was soon diverted to the morning songs of the birds in the trees, a beautiful symphony of sounds.  In fact, it was in that moment that I was led to write the following:

This morning I heard birds singing…
This is what I heard:
Their chirps were of melodious spirit, uplifting and exuberant;
Songs filled with gratitude and joy!
Grateful were the birds, for a brand new day!

Noticeably absent from their tunes were cries of despair;
No mourning or weeping.
Happy! Yes, happy were the birds!
Gleeful, giddy, and wonderful – those birds!

“Welcome!” “Rise and shine!” “Rejoice!”…
Their lyrics rang.
“Blessed!” “Loved!” Provided for are we!”…
Continually they sang!

The song of those birds made me pause;
I gave thought to what played.
And with a voice not so beautiful I too cried out, “Rejoice!”
“Indeed, this is a day that the Lord has made!”

At another time away from the mountains of North Georgia, I penned the following:

I wish I could be north of here
In a land where the hills rise
Where the Nottely and the Wolf appear
And Blood Mountain dominates the sky.

Near a trail made famous by those who hike
And a center built to honor Reece
In a park nearby, I surely like
Where happiness appears to never cease.

For now, however, I’ll keep dreaming
Of that place in the hills
Until once again I see the beauty beaming
From that wonderful town of Blairsville!

There are many other poems I’ve written during my quiet times outdoors, but the point  I’m trying to make is that in those quiet times outdoors, I almost always seem to be given a deeper perspective on the beauty of creation.  From the quietness, I’m inspired.

Additionally, my wife and I have been to places that stir our soul in a different way.  Looking out upon valleys of rolling mountains, lush greenery, and cascading waterfalls, scripture often comes to mind.  This is something I now look forward to – the ability to find passages in the Word that adequately describe what I’m feeling…what I’m seeing.  For example, in Psalm 104, we read:

[1] Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
[2] covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
[3] He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;
[4] he makes his messengers winds,
his ministers a flaming fire.

[5] He set the earth on its foundations,
so that it should never be moved.
[6] You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
[7] At your rebuke they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
[8] The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
to the place that you appointed for them.
[9] You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth. 

10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
11 they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. (ESV.org)

Can you see the picture that I described above?  Do you not see the Creator in nature?

There are other ways that I tie scripture into our outdoor adventures.  I also like to take pictures and caption them with particular passages.  Similar to what you can find from a google search of a particular passage by selecting “images”, I, too, enjoy adding scripture passages to my pictures.  It is just another way that the Word of God speaks to me in the Great Outdoors.

What about you?  Do you enjoy spending time in the outdoors?  Are your experiences similar to mine?