Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for the daily challenges. We’re in the middle of a series right now called Reset, where we look at how following Jesus resets our thinking about various topics in life. This week we’re thinking about how Jesus resets our view of nature.
The daily challenges are meant to help us explore what it means to follow Jesus, even in the midst of a busy commuting lifestyle. We have a rhythm that we follow each week to help us explore our topic. We introduce the idea on Monday, then Tuesday’s we study it in the Bible. Wednesday’s we try to let the Bible’s teaching sink in, and change and transform our thinking. Thursday’s we try to act out what we’ve been learning. Friday’s a day for prayer and reflection, and then Saturday’s a day for rest.
Sunday is a day for community, because even when we are scattered and busy, it is important that we come together as one community to explore Jesus and what it means to follow him in one place.
When I say that following Jesus resets our view of nature, you may wonder where I’m going with this. Am I going to say that following Jesus means we don’t need to worry about the environment? That we’re all going to fly away to Heaven someday, so it doesn’t matter what happens here, this is just kind of a disposable world? Well, that’s actually not consistent with Christian belief, and we’re going to explore this week how Christian belief resets our view of nature in a new and unexpected way perhaps.
I’m standing here in the beauty of nature. This is a place where a lot of people have moments where they feel particularly in awe of God. A lot of people say things like, “Oh, I don’t need to go to church. I can just worship God in nature.” There’s a lot of truth to that. We can worship God in nature. Nature is a place where we can really appreciate God’s handiwork as a creator. Where we can really see God as an artist.
I think there’s more to worshiping God than that. Of course, that’s the importance of Christian community that we’re going to be trying to live out when we come together as small groups. That doesn’t diminish the importance of those God moments that we can have in nature.
A few years ago, one of my favorite parts of my job was that I got to go on a hiking trip every year to the Adirondack Mountains with the counselors in training from a local summer camp. It was the highlight of my year because it was just something I love to do in the first place. The Adirondack’s are one of my favorite places in the world, just all sorts of mountains. It’s like a playground if you’re into hiking and rock climbing.
We’d go there and we’d spend about three days. One day just kind of hiking in, and then two days where we’d do a big hike. The first year that we went, I had to think long and hard about how this was going to be more than just a physical exercise. How would we make this trip, since it was a church camp, how would we help this help us to open our eyes to how God had created the world around us, and how God was a part of our lives, including when we go on a hike like this?
I found the Psalms of Ascent. They are some of the Psalms that you could find in the Bible, and there were particular ones that were known to be the Psalms that people said, or sang, as they climbed the mountain to the temple in Jerusalem. If they were headed to the temple, they were headed there to worship. What we did, is on our mountain climbing trip, as we hiked, we said these Psalms of Ascent. There were some of them that we just kind of timed out. Every time we took a break, we read one together and prayed.
There were other times that I had a Psalms of Ascent ready in case we needed one. For example, somebody eventually did turn their ankle a little bit and got hurt. We had a Psalms of Ascent ready for that, that talked about God keeping us safe and helping us stay protected, and even talked about our ankles not being turned, so it was perfect for that.
We were able to bring together our faith in the God who creates, with our enjoyment of what he’d created. We were able to make our hiking and climbing experience a spiritual experience. When we finally got to the top of the mountain, we stopped and we had Communion.
We had, “a mountaintop experience,” is what people call them. One of those moments that I’ll never forget, and I know that the teenagers and the supervisors who were hiking with us will never forget it either. It was just incredible to have that moment of Communion with one another and with God, when it felt like there was nothing else to distract us, nothing else to separate us from God, but simply some air.
That was my experience with God in nature. You can learn a lot from an experience like that. One base thing that I remember is recognizing that God hasn’t abandoned nature. God created something beautiful and said it was good, and it’s still good, and there’s still a lot of beauty in it. We don’t want to forget that as we try to figure out how to live in this world using the resources we’ve been given wisely.
Well, we’re going to explore this topic a lot more this week, but I’ve got a question for you to think about, and I hope you’ll discuss it with other people you know, from the train, bus, or from work, or from home, wherever you connect with people.
Question: Have you ever had a God moment in nature? A moment when nature pointed you to God and what God had done? Maybe share it with that person who you’re discussing our daily challenges with. What was it like? What did you learn? How did it change you?
Well, have a great discussion. I’ll see you tomorrow as we study in the Bible the connection between God and nature. Bye for now.