Knowing God Through Enjoying the Word
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hand"
"Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?"
When the Psalmist declares that, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” he is saying that the world is full of information about God to the curious observer. God’s creation tells us something about the nature of God, and it is by observing and appreciating nature that we can come to praise and glorify God. God created nature so that we would marvel at the designer behind it. In fact, Paul argues that it is simply by observing the world around us that we can come to understand God’s supremacy over all creation and learn about some of his divine attributes (Rom. 1:19-20). When we stop and truly consider the detail of nature and the scope of God’s creation, we realize how amazing it really is that God cares for us at all (Psalm 8:3-4). What’s truly awesome about this is that it doesn’t require us to be a scientist or a mathematician. All we need to do is spend time in nature, look around, and consider what the beauty around us teaches us about the mind, creativity, and joy of the Creator we get to call “Father.”
With these kinds of discoveries available to us simply by using our time outdoors, we must stop and consider how often we’re prioritizing time enjoying God’s world and experiencing all that God has to offer us through nature. The more time we spend being entertained by a screen, the less interest we tend to have in exploring nature and the outdoors. Studies show that kids and teens are spending more time in front of a screen than they do outdoors. (In fact, kids today only spend an average of 4–7 minutes outdoors while spending an average of 7½ hours on electronics!) People seemingly prefer engaging with a screen because of the immediate reward and therefore don’t prioritize activities that get them out in nature. Because we are missing out on time spent in nature, we are missing out on the opportunity to know God through his world.
Countless studies show the profound and positive effect that spending time in nature has on our health and wellbeing. A 2019 study of over 20,000 people found that spending just two hours a week in nature – whether being active or just sitting and observing – “significantly boosts” our mental health and life satisfaction. Research has found that time spent in green spaces (even just a city park) lowers stress, reduces symptoms of depression, helps increase attention span and focus, boosts the immune system, increases our energy levels, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, and improves sleep. Additionally, contact with nature is even associated with increases in happiness, positive affect, positive social interactions, and a sense of meaning and purpose in life. One physician concludes, “Choosing to spend time outdoors, somewhere green, is certainly my prescription for stressed out bodies and minds.”
Questions for Reflection:
- Can you think of times you have spent outdoors without your phone or laptop? During those times, can you think of any positive effects on you from that time?
- Do you have regular outdoor time built-in to your schedule? What are creative ways you could incorporate this more or even substitute it for time typically spent on your phone?
- Go on a 10-15 minute walk outside today (doesn’t have to be somewhere fancy) and spend some time reflecting on what the world around you might be teaching you about God.