Oct 10 2010

A Book With No Words

BFSP Blackwater Falls 090St. Augustine is one of the most significant figures or voices in church history.  In seminary I read his Confessions and came to see why it is considered a classic of Christian devotional literature.  In this book Augustine notes, “God has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him.”  I consider this passage to almost be on the same level as Scripture.  It rings true in my heart and explains a lot of things.

I also appreciate what Augustine had to say about God and nature.  Writing in the fourth century he said “Some people, in order to discover God, read books.  But there is a great book; the very appearance of created things.  Look about you!  Look below you!  Note it.  Read it.  God, who you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink.  Instead He set before your eyes the things He had made.  Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”

MNF 888I happen to be one of those people Augustine wrote about when he said some people read books to discover God.  I have a personal library of over 15,000 books.  I love to read and have learned much about God through the books I’ve read.  Still, I, and others, need Augustine’s reminder that there is another book that we need to be turning to—a book not written with ink.  In Creation we find a wonderful volume that will teach us much about the God we seek to discover. 

Augustine is pretty emphatic about this.  He says “look about you!,” “look below you!,” “note it,”  “read it.”   It was his conviction that we hear God speak louder here—in Creation–than in all the books written about God.   I suspect he would have even included his own books in this great claim.

If you are one who longs to “discover God” or want to know Him better, I encourage you to take Augustine’s advice.  Start reading that “book not written with ink.”  Get outside and get to know God.


(I took the images above in West Virginia last week.  The top image was captured at Blackwater Falls State Park.  The bottom image was taken in the Monogahela National Forest.)

Oct 6 2010

Making All Things New

Dolly Sods Bear Rocks 144I have been in West Virginia the past couple of days. I decided to take a short retreat to enjoy some solitude, spend some time in prayer and, of course, photograph the beauty of God’s Creation. Coming here has enabled me to visit a place I had heard about for a number of years, the Dolly Sods Wilderness.

Dolly Sods 431Dolly Sods is located on a high plateau on the Allegeny Front and is part of the Monongahela National Forest. In the higher altitudes one experiences a terrain more like Alaska or northern Canada than West Virginia. It is a windswept rocky plain featuring a number of upland bogs and few trees. It doesn’t seem to belong in West Virginia and there’s a reason for that.  The Dolly Sods area looks nothing like it did two hundred years ago. At one time it was a dense forest with trees almost as large as giant sequoias but that was before logging began here in the 1880s. After the area was logged there were numerous fires that literally burned the soil layer down to bare rock. The hand of man basically destroyed what was once a vast red spruce and hemlock forest.

Dolly Sods 564Dolly Sods is a beautiful place today. It doesn’t look like what it was meant to be but it is still wondrous to behold.  As I have traveled through this wilderness and walked some of its trails the past couple of days a verse of scripture from Revelation 21:5 keeps coming to mind–“Behold, I am making all things new!”   God has taken something that man destroyed and made it into something new and beautiful.

That, of course, is God’s specialty–taking that which is bad or ugly and turning it into something good and beautiful. He does that in nature and He does that in the lives of people like you and me.  And in both instances it takes time. It took decades for Dolly Sods to regain its present day beauty (which is all the more reason to protect our existing forests).  It takes God a while to change us too but the good news is He is still making all things new. That gives the planet Earth hope and it gives us hope personally as well.


(The three images above were taken this week at Dolly Sods Wilderness.)