adventure, Backpacking, Camping, canoeing, Creation, Creator, Faithful Living, God, Henry David Thoreau, Lessons from the Wilderness, Nature, Outdoor Adventures, Prayer, Uncategorized, wilderness, wisdom

A Song of Praise

Why do people yearn to go to the wilderness? Is it as simple as wanting to get away for a break? Is it an escape? For some, these adventures take the form of a quest to seek out beauty and peace and quiet, to discover new worlds. For others, getting away- in a canoe, or a tent, backpacking or biking- is a form of worship. Thoreau once saw a man fishing, and described it as “a sort of solemn sacrament and withdrawal from the world.”[1] Even Jesus was known to draw away for time alone. But he was not really alone, because we are also told that he drew away to pray to his Father.

We should think about the reasons we draw away from our busy world. I have heard people laughingly say that they don’t go to church on Sunday morning because they prefer to enjoy God’s world out on the golf course. Nature is beautiful, and no doubt golf is fun. Time spent in nature is restorative. Instructive. But to worship the creation instead of the Creator, to create our own god out of nature, is a mistake because nature is not God.

Nature teems with life. We rise from our tent, look out across a fog-shrouded wilderness lake, hear the birds, and breathe deep sighs of contentment. We feel so alive! But where does all this life come from? Your life does not rise out of the deep waters, the sighing pines, the quick-footed hare or the soaring hawk. God made all this beauty. Heart-wrenching, breath-stopping, glorious beauty. Why? To point our hearts to Him. It turns out that all of creation is a road map to God, and the delight He took in making everything is the same delight we are to take in Him.

Job knew it was all too wonderful to understand. But he did appreciate that “earth will never be your savior…that God alone is able to give you life.”[2]

There’s more to living this life than we can see, just like there’s more to a river than what we see on its surface. We don’t go out in nature to worship what we see but what we can’t.”

The next time you pick up a paddle or a pack, and find yourself surrounded by the glories of the wilderness, take a moment to let the awe sink in that a Creator would make all this life, including your life, and that He takes great delight in you. A song of praise can’t help but well up out of your heart.

~J.A.P. Walton

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[1] Henry David Thoreau. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Viking Press, 1985. p. 22.

[2] Paul David Tripp. New Morning Mercies. Crossway. Wheaton IL. 2014. Devotion for March 24.

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