May 7 2024

God in Wild Places

(This was one of the first blogs I wrote when Rob Sheppard and I started “Seeing Creation” fifteen years ago. I still believe what I wrote back then, only more so now.)

A number of years ago I came across the following story, told by David J. Wolpe, in Teaching Your Children About God.  It concerns a child of a rabbi who used to wander in the woods.

“At first his father let him wander, but over time he became concerned.  The woods were dangerous.  The father did not know what lurked there.  He decided to discuss the matter with his child.  One day he took him aside and said, ‘You know, I have noticed that each day you walk into the woods.  I wonder, why do you go there?’  The boy said to his father, ‘I go there to find God.’  ‘That is a very good thing,’ the father replied gently.  ‘I am glad you are searching for God.  But, my child, don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?’  ‘Yes,’ the boy answered, ‘but I’m not.’”

I’ve used this story from time to time to try and explain to people why the woods and wilderness are so important to me.  I realize that it is not true for everyone but for me I do feel different in the woods.  I feel a closeness to God there that is not so prevalent in my more urbanized everyday life.  And because I feel a nearness to God in wild places it is crucial for me that such places be preserved.

I have a feeling that there are many others who feel close to God in the woods and want to make sure that these places are maintained.  I just hope that there are enough of us to make a difference.  Enough folks who will work to make sure that there are plenty of wild places for people to go to and experience a closeness to God in nature.

–Chuck Summers


Apr 22 2024

An Earth Day Prayer for Today

It has been well over a year since I laid to rest my Seeing Creation blog. Recently a friend encouraged me to go back and repost some of my favorite entries. I decided that I would do just that and this is the first of them. This entry is a prayer I wrote for Earth Day in 2021. Today being Earth Day, I hope you will pray this prayer with me.

“Almighty God, as we observe Earth Day once again this year we pause to acknowledge you as the Maker of heaven and earth.  We celebrate both the beauty and the goodness of all that you have made.  Everywhere we go, everywhere we look, we see the beauty of your creation.  We see it right now in the budding trees, the blooming flowers, the clouds in the sky, the colorful birds you send to brighten our days.  We see so much beauty in the mountains, the ocean, the forests, the plains, and even the deserts you have made. All this beauty is but a dim reflection of your own beauty.  Thank you, God, for giving us a chance to see such beauty and may we be careful not to miss what is there to see.

Today we likewise affirm the goodness of your creation.  You made the world in such a way to meet our needs.  You gave us air to breathe, water to drink, food to sustain us, and companions to share our journey.  When you finished your work you declared that it was very good.  Today we make that same affirmation and offer you our praise and thanksgiving for the goodness of the earth.

With the Psalmist we also affirm that the heavens continue to declare your glory.  That you have given us your creation as a second book by which we might come to know and understand you better.  Please give us eyes to see and ears to hear what you desire to show us in the world around us.

Lord, on this special day we are reminded that we are a part of your creation and that you have given us the responsibility to be good stewards of the earth.  Unfortunately, we have not been very good stewards.  Today your creation suffers.  We have polluted the water and air you provided to sustain us.  We have destroyed many of the resources you gave us to nurture us.  Our wanton ways have led to a reduction of needed forests and mountains.  We have even eliminated many species you created in your love and wisdom.  More and more we see that we are paying the price for our sins.  Disease, climate change, droughts, fires, devastating storms can all be traced back to our recklessness.  God, have mercy on us.

Please forgive us for not being more faithful stewards and help us to start doing a better job.  May we never forget that the earth belongs to you and that we have a responsibility to do all we can to preserve and protect your good earth.  May we realize that in caring for the earth we show our love both for you and others, even for those yet to be born. 

In the end we pray with Jesus that your will might be done ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’  It is in his name we offer this prayer. Amen.”

Chuck Summers


Jun 28 2022

Two Conversions*

In his book, Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey speaks of having undergone two conversions: “first from the natural world to discover the supernatural, and later to rediscover the natural world from a new viewpoint.”  The second conversion led him to try to make daily life sacramental.  This means attempting to see God in the world around us each day.

Yancey says, “Every day, every hour, every moment, I must exercise my calling to hallow God’s creation, whether it be leatherback turtles in Costa Rica or the irritating kid next door who peppers my yard with golf balls.  Holy sparks are potentially trapped in every moment of my day, and as God’s agent I am called to release them.”

I think a lot of us are in need of the second conversion Yancey speaks of.  We need to understand that the world God has created is indeed sacred.  Likewise, we need to grasp that God uses what He has made to reveal Himself to us.  There are lots and lots of “holy sparks” waiting to be released.  But before they can be released we must recognize that they are there and look for them.  In The Imitation of Christ Thomas a Kempis wrote, “If your heart were right, then every created thing would be a mirror of life, and a book of sacred doctrine.  There is no creature so small and worthless that it does not show forth the goodness of God.”

Yancey also speaks of another effect of his second conversion.  He says, “If I take seriously the sacred origin of this world, at the very least I must learn to treat it as God’s work of art, something that gave God enormous pleasure.”  Normally we treat works of art with great care.  Apparently many  today fail to see Creation as a work of art.  This is evidenced by the destruction of the planet’s rain forests, the pollution of streams and rivers, the careless elimination of animal species, and a host of other environmental degradations.  God’s incredible work of art deserves far better care than it has received!

Throughout Christian history there have been a number of “great revivals” or spiritual awakenings where thousands of people experienced the first conversion Yancey spoke of.  Perhaps what we need now is a great revival where people will experience the second conversion.  I pray that revival comes.

–Chuck

*This post originally appeared in July, 2010. Twelve years later, I believe it is a message that still needs to be heard.


Dec 29 2021

Nature-RX

I had my annual physical exam a couple of days ago.  After telling my physician about some issues I’ve been having he prescribed a couple of new medications for me.  I am hopeful they will prove beneficial.  I am certainly thankful that we live at a time when there are wonderful medications to help us experience better health. Ironically, shortly before Christmas I received a green T-shirt in the mail that had “Nature-RX” printed on it.  I have no idea who sent me the shirt but I love it.  The shirt will serve as a reminder to me that nature has healing benefits we could all use.

Various studies have revealed a host of benefits from spending time in nature.  These benefits include an increase in happiness, an antidote to stress, anxiety reduction, improved moods, lower blood pressure, enhanced immune system function, a sense of meaning and purpose, and the promotion of cognitive development in children.  Spending time in nature also improves concentration, energy and focus. It even makes a person more giving.  If there was a pill that would do all of this for us I suspect we’d all be asking our doctors for a prescription.   We would even be willing to pay a high price for such a medicine.  Well, in nature we find all this available to us for free and anyone can take advantage of it.

Today we actually know just how much nature is required to reap many of the benefits I’ve mentioned.  A recent study revealed that people who spend two hours a week in green spaces—local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spread out over several visits—are substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t.  Spending just 120 minutes a week outside can do you a world of good! 

I would be negligent if I didn’t also note that there are many spiritual benefits to spending time in nature.  As we get outdoors we have a chance to observe our Creator’s handiwork.  Our spirits get lifted as we admire the beauty of the earth.  We can actually commune with God through nature.  If we will pay close attention we can also learn many spiritual lessons from the natural world.  It is obvious from reading the Gospels that Jesus did just this.  I believe we can likewise find comfort and peace, as well as joy and strength, from time spent with God outdoors.  Viewing beautiful sunrises and sunsets, observing the wonders of the night sky, or paying attention to the flora and fauna around us can draw us closer to God.  Surely spending time in nature ought to be considered a spiritual discipline.  It is something we can all benefit from.

The “Great Physician” has written us a marvelous prescription that will have positive benefits for us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I hope we will all be wise enough to take advantage of this prescription in the coming year.  Why not make a New Year’s resolution now to do just that?  Happy New Year and God bless!

-Chuck


Nov 29 2021

The Light Prevails

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”  Isaiah 9:2

The season of Advent began yesterday.  Over the next few weeks Christians will be preparing for the celebration of Christmas.  Advent is a time of waiting and eager anticipation.  It seems to me that the natural year offers us a helping hand for Advent.  This is the time of year when the nights are long.  Many people find the long nights disconcerting.  It doesn’t seem right for it to be getting dark when it’s barely 4:00 p.m.  Some folks even experience depression as a result of the longer nights.   That’s understandable.  As a general rule, we long for light.

Right now a lot of us are longing for longer days.  Those days of extended light will soon be here.  After December 21 the time of daylight will begin to lengthen.  At the winter solstice we celebrate that the darkness does not prevail.  That is a theme of Advent as well.  The darkness that prevails in the world right now will not last forever.  A better day is coming, a day characterized by light.

The prophet Isaiah lived in a time of spiritual darkness and prophesied that “a great light” would dawn upon the people.  Christians believe that he spoke of the coming Messiah and that his words were fulfilled with the birth of Jesus.  It was a bright light in the sky that led the Wise Men or Magi to the Christ child.  Later Jesus would identify himself as the “light of the world.”  The author of the Fourth Gospel declared “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) 

I am thankful that God’s Light was revealed to us in such a marvelous way that first Christmas.  Over the years that Light has brought me much comfort and joy.  It has also brought me a great deal of hope.  I look forward to the day when that Light will be made manifest in all his glory.  In the meantime we will have to endure periods of darkness and do all we can to share the light of Christ with others.  How encouraging it is to know that sooner or later brighter days will come.  The Light will, in fact, prevail over the darkness.  Our Advent hope will be fulfilled.

–Chuck


Apr 22 2021

An Earth Day Prayer

This past Sunday I was asked to share an Earth Day prayer during the zoom worship service of the Nicholasville Christian Church. Today I want to share that same prayer with you:

Almighty God, as we observe Earth Day once again this year we pause to acknowledge you as the Maker of heaven and earth.  We celebrate both the beauty and the goodness of all that you have made.  Everywhere we go, everywhere we look, we see the beauty of your creation.  We see it right now in the budding trees, the blooming flowers, the clouds in the sky, the colorful birds you send to brighten our days.  We see so much beauty in the mountains, the ocean, the forests, the plains, and even the deserts you have made. All this beauty is but a dim reflection of your own beauty.  Thank you, God, for giving us a chance to see such beauty and may we be careful not to miss what is there to see.

Today we likewise affirm the goodness of your creation.  You made the world in such a way to meet our needs.  You gave us air to breathe, water to drink, food to sustain us, and companions to share our journey.  When you finished your work you declared that it was very good.  Today we make that same affirmation and offer you our praise and thanksgiving for the goodness of the earth.

With the Psalmist we also affirm that the heavens continue to declare your glory.  That you have given us your creation as a second book by which we might come to know and understand you better.  Please give us eyes to see and ears to hear what you desire to show us in the world around us.

Lord, on this special day we are reminded that we are a part of your creation and that you have given us the responsibility to be good stewards of the earth.  Unfortunately, we have not been very good stewards.  Today your creation suffers.  We have polluted the water and air you provided to sustain us.  We have destroyed many of the resources you gave us to nurture us.  Our wanton ways have led to a reduction of needed forests and mountains.  We have even eliminated many species you created in your love and wisdom.  More and more we see that we are paying the price for our sins.  Disease, climate change, droughts, fires, devastating storms can all be traced back to our recklessness.  God, have mercy on us.

Please forgive us for not being more faithful stewards and help us to start doing a better job.  May we never forget that the earth belongs to you and that we have a responsibility to do all we can to preserve and protect your good earth.  May we realize that in caring for the earth we show our love both for you and others, even for those yet to be born. 

In the end we pray with Jesus that your will might be done on earth just as it is done in heaven.  It is in his name we offer this prayer.  Amen.

Chuck