Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
One of the things I love about spending time in the great outdoors is the opportunity to get away from the noise and distractions of life and clear my head. I think this is one of the (many) reasons why I feel closer to God when I’m immersed in His creation.
There’s a lookout point along a the Mammoth Trail in the Ansel Adams Wilderness where the curtain of ponderosa pines is pulled away revealing more than a hundred square miles of Sierra Nevada granite and forest, all in one heart-stopping view. I’ve been to this spot three or four times now, and each time I am overcome with the majesty of our Creator. It’s one of those experiences that takes away all of your words, leaving you with nothing to do but dwell in awe of our Lord and His mighty creation, rivaling any vista you’ll find in a National Park. Looking to the northeast you see the bare, silver peaks of the Minarets, topped in snow, illustrating the source of this mountain range’s name (sierra nevada means “snowy mountains” or “snowy saw” in Spanish). To the southeast, the North Fork San Joaquin River dives into a steep canyon, accessible to only the hardiest of hikers. Looking directly east, straight across from the vista point, are alpine peaks and forests as far as the eye can see. Every time I’m there, my eye is always drawn to an alpine meadow that must be eight or ten miles away. I can’t help but wonder how many (or how few) humans have walked across that grassy patch, and the powerful urge to find a way there gives me butterflies.
Psalm 111:2 says “Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them.”
But if I’m honest then I have to admit that even in the most awe-inspiring, breath-taking, heart-stopping places in nature, I am often so caught up in my activities that I don’t take the time to just be still and soak it all in. I may be standing in the middle of a high mountain stream, surrounded by forest, my ears filled with the constant chatter of the water bubbling over rocks and around fallen trees, cold water pushing against my thighs as I try to fight the current. But I’m so focused on reading the water, searching for trout, trying to get just the right drift of my fly, and not going for a swim, that I miss it unless I intentionally stop what I’m doing and be still. You see, our outdoor adventures may get us out into creation, but our human nature is to be thinking constantly, moving constantly, talking constantly. We have to choose to simply be still or we may miss the greatest blessings God has in store for us.
We have to take a knee (literally or figuratively), with our heads bowed before our King. We have to stop our busy mouths and minds, and let Him speak. We have to correct in our hearts the prideful notion that this moment is all about me.
So the next outing you plan, whether it’s a day hike or bike ride close to home, or a four-day backpacking trip in the Cascades, or maybe a weekend rafting the Payette River, plan time to simply be still. You may be amazed at all God has to say to you.
Questions for thought
When was the last time you went out into nature and sat still for a long time? What was the result?
How could you rearrange your outdoor adventures to ensure that you have ample time for stillness?
What could you do close to home to escape the noise and busyness and distractions of everyday life and sit still in the presence of the King?
God, you are our King. And our words are many. Teach us to kneel before you quietly. Still our souls in your presence and speak to us, heal us, bring us hope. Fill our hearts with your peace, though we know we will not be able to fully understand it. Become the object of our meditation. In the name of your Son Jesus, Amen.