Oct 20 2013

Learning to See God in Creation

_CES9205This past weekend I had the privilege of leading the fall photo workshop at Pennyrile Forest State Park in western Kentucky.  It was a fun event and there were lots of great people on hand.  One of the things that I found exciting was how many children participated in the workshop.  These kids were quite enthusiastic about their photography and were eager to learn.  There were a number of adults who, likewise, seemed eager to learn.  Several of them had purchased nice digital cameras but weren’t sure how to use the features that came on them.  I did what I could to help them grasp a better understanding of how their cameras worked and what they could do with them.

_CES9264Doing the workshop caused me to reflect on my own learning experience with photography.  I purchased my first camera as a teenager and enjoyed taking pictures from the start.  I did not, however, bother back then learning how my camera worked.  Today it seems a miracle I ever got a decent image.  Twenty-one years ago I decided I wanted to become a serious photographer and quickly discovered I had a lot to learn.  There was much to learn about the mechanics of the camera.  There was also a great deal to learn about composition and taking pictures.  Some things could be learned in a book.   Other things required experience or perhaps even a teacher.  I stuck with it and eventually got to the point where I could consistently take good quality images.  I’ll be the first to admit, though, that I still have a lot to learn.  As long as I continue to take photographs I hope I will also continue to grow in my skills and craft.

_CES9218Everyone who wants to learn how to photograph has to start with the basics.  I think the same thing is true with seeing God in Creation.   For me those basics are the recognition that God is the Creator of this world and that God seeks to make Himself known through it.  And just as I believe anyone can learn to take good pictures I believe anyone can learn to see God in Creation.  Like with photography, some will learn how to do so quickly, for others it may take more time, but anyone who truly wants to see and experience God in nature can learn to do so.  Here, too, there are books that can serve as instructional guides.  Reading about seeing God in Creation second hand, however, will only take you so far.  You will also want to get out and gain experience yourself.  Take what you’ve learned in the books you’ve read, or perhaps even on this blog, and then go out and allow God’s Spirit to lead you into your own rich and rewarding experiences.

_CES9320Thomas Merton once said that when it comes to prayer we are always beginners.  I suspect the same thing is true when it comes to seeing God in Creation.  There probably are no “experts” in the field, but we can all grow, over time, to learn and see more and more.  Having good eyes and ears will certainly help but in the end it is the eyes and ears of the heart that matter the most.  I believe God will honor the desire of all those who earnestly seek Him.  The prophet Jeremiah heard God say, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (29:13)  If we persist in our efforts to see God in His Creation, and do so with all our heart, we can count on having many wonderful experiences and revelations down the road.  That’s not my promise, it’s His.  In the end we will discover that God Himself will be our teacher and that He will make sure to show us the paths that will lead us into His presence.  How cool is that?


(The pictures shown above are some samples of what I took while at Pennyrile Forest State Park this weekend.)


Jul 25 2010

Nature’s Sermons

BIP 669I continue to be amazed at how the various figures of the Bible use nature to illustrate spiritual truths.  I’m reading the Book of Jeremiah now and a few days ago I came across a passage where the prophet encouraged his listeners to trust in God.  He indicates that there are benefits of trusting God but he doesn’t say exactly what these benefits are.  Instead he compares them to a tree planted by water.

The passage I’m referring to is Jeremiah 17:7-8.  It reads, “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.  It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.”

A similar comparison is made in Psalm 1.  There the Psalmist declares as “happy” those whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.  They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.” (v. 3)

Since I live in an area which has lots of creeks and rivers I see every day “trees planted by water.”  And sure enough, even in the tremendous heat we are experiencing this summer, they continue to thrive.  They have what they need most—water.

In God we find what we need most.  And Jeremiah is certainly right.  There are many benefits of putting our trust in God.  Like the tree planted by water we can endure difficult times when we remain close to God.  We can live without fear and anxiety knowing that the One who created us and everything else has promised to provide for our needs.  We can live productive lives as long as we stay close to our Maker.  This is something Jesus himself stressed in his analogy of the vine and the branches in John 15.

As a pastor I have the privilege of delivering sermons each Sunday.  Here lately the Bible has been reminding me that nature delivers sermons each and every day.  Are we listening?  We should be!


(The “tree planted by water” shown above was photographed at Breaks Interstate Park in southeast Kentucky.)