Riveted by the resonance of rushing mountain waters, I looked up to see the magnificent evergreen forest touch the pale blue sky. Debbie’s head turned upward too. Without a word between us that might shatter the spellbinding ambiance, we soaked in the greenery and breathed in the scents of pine, spruce, and fir. Meanwhile, golden sunshine and a gentle breeze garnished the pleasant July day.
How could the tallest of trees point heavenward with such majesty, as if sculpted by an artist’s brush? What kept their aim true and prevented them from toppling over? The real mystery of Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest, however, was its power over us.
Why does the eye find such pleasure in the triangular symmetry of thousands of trees in salute? Why do they grow that way, reaching to the sun and beyond in perfect harmony, as if to maximize the pleasure of those who notice them?
Not to be outdone, the nearby river drew us. With whitecaps breaking over rocks and current carving through the forest downstream, why did the turbulent waters bring such peace to our souls? They shouted with unequivocal force yet brought such calm. How? And why? We hadn’t experienced the same feeling when motorcycles blared by. Nor had their fumes captivated us.
Is our sensory perception hard-wired? After all, most people relish certain stimuli while other sensations repulse them. Why do kids love chocolate but turn up their noses to Brussels sprouts?
With a profound purpose and effect, our synergistic surroundings couldn’t have happened by chance. They left us dumbfounded.
As we mounted our bicycles for the long ascent toward Lolo Pass, the mesmerizing tranquility would continue uninterrupted for hours. We had been escorted to a place, yes, but more so to a state of being where we could contemplate what really mattered, to not only marvel at the One who brought our experience to bear but to actually feel it deep within our souls. Our own insignificance had washed away with the adjacent current. How was it that we had been treated to that grandeur, and who were we to deserve it? The truth was we weren’t worthy.
Such an encounter with creation cries out for communion. It’s impossible not to respond. For it pierces to the heart and announces something monumental. The logical reaction is to pay homage, that is if we can divorce self-absorption long enough to recognize what is happening. One way or the other, we’ll respond. Even an oblivious indifference disowns the Creator, revealing the soul is amiss.
In Romans 1:18-20 (TLB), the Bible talks about the consequences when we decline God’s screaming invitation from nature:
“But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.”
If you’ve missed the glory of God around you, it’s not necessary to bicycle along the Lochsa River in Idaho to experience it. However, you do need to slow down and look around with open eyes, a clear head, and a receptive spirit. If that alignment eludes you, consider a field trip away from the hubbub and responsibilities of everyday life. Even Jesus did that (Luke 5:16).
When was the last time God overwhelmed you with His creation, and how did you respond?
Copyright © 2019 Tim Bishop, used with permission.