Go Outside! Creation Screams of God’s Existence
Cultivating Peace: Quiet & Simple Rhythms During Busy Seasons
Part 2: The Great Outdoors
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.John Muir
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and rink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.Ecclesiastes 5:18
I’m far from being a winter person. As those colder months quickly approach, it’s hard to look forward to snow, ice, and the bitter cold days of January and February. Not to mention, I struggle with Raynaud’s syndrome (more or less I don’t get enough blood flow to my fingers and toes when it’s cold). When my fingers and toes get cold, they go completely numb and take close to an hour to get warm again. Cold does not mesh well with my body.
With that said, I do enjoy being outside. While I don’t have the opportunity to move to a warmer climate at this time, I have learned to love where I live. I’m thankful for the diverse beauty within the four seasons. And I’ve learned to properly prepare for those colder months (which often requires wearing heavier attire outside than most).
This fall, as my son finished up his soccer season, I was reminded of my love of the outdoors. To be honest, I looked forward to each of those Saturday morning soccer games- loading up the car with lawn chairs, jackets, blankets, and snacks. Even if it was a cooler, rainy day, I wanted to go out in the elements and experience it. The smell of fresh-cut grass, watching my son laugh, and snuggling with my daughter in a lawn chair were all outdoor experiences that I cherished.
My brain fog and “to-do” list were removed from view for a while, and I could simply be. That time truly did wonders for my body and brain. I felt alive.
Soon after those games ended, I decided we’d continue to make the effort to go outside despite the approaching colder months. Saturdays have now become our “hiking days”. And no matter what is going on within our home that day, we take a break and go outside. It’s become a day of slowing down and truly appreciating what’s right before us in our area.
Getting out the door is the hardest task, but once we’re dressed for the weather and out the door, my kids’ attitudes (and mine) always change for the better. It’s fulfilling seeing their bodies and brains at work. They get so excited about running, climbing, and finding various leaves, sticks, flowers, and insects on our hikes. We’ve even brought buckets so they can collect different objects. I’ve been most amazed by their creativity, as they come up with games and activities as we hike.
Even if we go back to the same path or park we’ve trekked before, there’s always something new or different- a fallen tree, new leaves on the ground, snow, flowers, deer, people walking dogs, etc. When taking breaks on our hikes, we’re able to sit in stillness, hear our breath, take in the cold air, and study the ground below our feet.
Being outside reminds us of something, or rather Someone, greater than ourselves. It reignites something within us that makes us feel human again. What’s right in front of us is so detailed by our Creator if we slow down to appreciate it. It’s all a giant reminder of Who He is and all He’s created in His magnificence.
We often feel more alive, productive, and creative after being outside. There are plenty of articles and studies that show how being outside helps to boost productivity and creativity. And we don’t have to shell out a lot of money to travel the world, we simply have to walk outside and look what’s right before us. There’s so much detail within our area that we can easily take for granted.
Like appreciating a fine piece of art, we have to slow down and choose to look at things longer, deeper, and more appreciatively to truly capture the essence and message of the piece before us. By studying that piece of art, we can learn more about the creator- what he/she values, what he would like us to think about or not think about, where he came from, his background, etc. And just as each piece of art points back to its creator, the greatest creation- the world and all that’s in it- points back and gives glory to our God.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him.Colossians 1:16 ESV
No one looks at a piece of art and thinks that it created itself out of nothing. Our world screams at us that we have a Creator. We have a Divine Artist who loves beauty and everything good, perfect, and true. And while we live in this fallen world due to sin, this vast and beautiful world points back to our loving God- the Creator who sent His One and only Son to save us from our sins.
What is more beautiful, honoring, worthy of praise, and awesome than a God who created us in love and loved us so much that He sent Jesus for you and me? Our Heavenly Father is a Creator worth knowing and worshiping.
While the coming winter months may make it difficult for many to get outside, choose to be creative with your outdoor time. Choose to linger on your walk, stare up at that tall tree, walk outside and stand in the snowfall, and use those binoculars to study the birds of the sky. Our magnificent God created it all, and He wants you to know Him. His creation screams out for you to slow down, look up, and seek Him.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Matthew 6:26 NIV
I pray your time outdoors points you back to God, the ultimate Restorer of our souls. Here are some ideas for going outside with or without children:
- Do a “Google” search for parks or hiking trails. Choose one you’ve never done before.
- Create a “bucket list” of experiences you’d like to do outside this winter
- Spend time hanging Christmas decorations outside your home (or help a neighbor)
- Take your dog(s) on a different walking route
- Take a lunch break and walk outside
- Use binoculars to bird-watch
- Shovel the driveway (or a neighbor’s driveway) when it snows, or lay down salt to melt ice
- Commit to a garbage clean-up as you walk your neighborhood or community
- Walk through your neighborhood, city, or community during Christmas time to look at Christmas lights
- Have your children or grandchildren carry buckets and collect leaves, rocks, flowers, ice, as you walk outside.
- At nighttime, wear a headlamp and reflective vest to go on a night walk (our family did this a lot during 2020-2021, and it was a blast!) You can even look for winter night hikes in your area.
- Purchase snow/ice grippers for your shoes and go on a winter hike.
- Choose to go on a walk while it’s snowing (yes, I’ve even done this in a snowstorm- it’s very soothing- it’s so quiet)
- Choose a new outdoor activity you’ve never tried in the winter months: snow trekking, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, etc.