Asphalt and concrete are unfortunately what most Christians wake up to everyday; the screeching of tires and slamming of doors are more common than waking up in silence to a sunrise, the faint sounds of birds, or water running by in a creek.
What many Christians, Americans especially, lack therefore, is not only the ability to find a place of peace, but also a true appreciation of creation. We see nature through our car windows, not through the soles of our shoes, or from a cool breeze rushing across our faces.
As a student in greater Los Angeles’ sprawling suburbs, I encounter noise and technology at every turn. This is the opposite of what I am used to. Growing up in Kyrgyzstan, a small, former Soviet republic, I experienced nature daily. The mountains were only 45 minutes away from the capital city of Bishkek which I lived in. Snowboarding, hiking, and camping were staples of my childhood.
In America, encountering nature in this way can seem more difficult, but it is not impossible in the least. With a tent, map, pots and pans, food, and a Bible, I jump in a car to spend a weekend away. Here is how I find solitude, listen to God, relieve stress, and feel rejuvenated by spending time in nature.
1) Travel to a Natural Park, National Forest, or an area that is without a constant flow of people. (Some of my favorites are the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park, the granite peaks of Yosemite National Park, or the beaches of Southern California at night).
2) Hike to a vantage point, or area without the influence of civilization, perhaps on the top of a mountain (I found this refuge at the Grand Canyon-somehow reading your Bible becomes a lot more interesting when you sit at the edge of a cliff with your feet dangling off a precipice with nothing but rocks, hundreds of feet below).
3) Open your Bible to a certain passage, perhaps a favorite, (mine is the whole book of James) and read it over and over; taking time to look at what is before your eyes and reflecting on what God is telling you through the passage.
4) Put all objects aside, even your Bible for a while, and just sit. Listen. Smell. Think.
What I find from this experience is that I get perspective. When your cell phone reception is gone, the internet is unavailable, and no one else is talking to you; the realization hits that all of what usually takes precedence in life matters so little in God’s ultimate plan.
Sometimes incidents are brought to light in which I need to seek reconciliation for; prayer requests for other people come to mind, and my future with Christ at the center seems clearer.
The creator has placed something before your eyes that no computer could ever come up with, nor any artist truly replicate, so get out and enjoy it, while praising God for it.
“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.” – Romans 1:20