Our series on the Apostles Creed continues today as we take a look at the phrase, “Maker of Heaven and Earth”.
When people think of God as Creator, a lot of times we think about nature. We think about going out into nature and seeking God there. A lot of us seem to have this romantic idea that God the Creator is somehow more accessible out there in state parks or on the beach than he is at our houses. I’m sure at some point you’ve been on a hike or sat beside a lake or had some other kind of meaningful experience with nature. What’s going on there? I decided to look into it.
I realize you’re probably in your car fighting traffic, jogging on a treadmill, or doing the dishes or something, but I hope you’ll imagine being right there with me. Today on Three Dimensional Theology, I’m journeying out into nature, and I want to bring you with me. Let’s go.
My wife and I live in a neighborhood that is famous for its connection to nature. Shopping centers and gas stations are shrouded behind banks of trees, invisible from the road. Our house sits on a normal sized lot crammed with about twenty eight trees, at my last count. And miles and miles of walking trails weave through wooded areas among the homes, streets, and drainage ditches.
So earlier today I laced up a pair of shoes and headed out onto the trail closest to our home. I’ve walked and biked this path dozens of times before, but today I wanted some space to get away and to see if I could connect with God our Creator out here.
The first thing I noticed was the quiet. I heard a dog bark, some children playing, cars passing on nearby roads. But mostly I heard natural, quiet, peaceful sounds. Water gurgling, brown leaves crunching beneath my steps, green leaves rustling overhead.
A bright red cardinal swoops across the path, unseen birds squawk in the distance, and squirrels chatter and scurry all around. I love the peaceful sounds of being outside, the feeling of getting away from the house a little bit, the ability to almost forget I’m never more than a stones throw away from people’s houses.
The squirrels especially make an impression on me. They seem so full of personality, so curious but also quick and cautious. A few times on my walk I came within just a few feet of one of them before it suddenly realized I was there and retreated to the shelter of nearby undergrowth. Sometimes when I ride my bike out here the squirrels, bounding around on the path, don’t hear me coming. I almost always have to slam on my brakes at least once when I’m out riding the trails to avoid hitting one. My constant fear is that one day one of these squirrels, alarmed by the sound of my fast approaching bike, will bolt beneath my tire. I really don’t want to have to Google, “How to clean squirrel blood off a bicycle”.
But hold on a minute. Here I am out here, trying to commune with God in nature, and all I can think about is accidental squirrel-icide. I try to refocus: peaceful sounds, I key back into the birds, rustling leaves, gentle footsteps, babbling br…
Oh. My. Gosh. What is that smell? It’s like something died in the gully or something. Uggggh!
No! Stop it. I need to refocus: God’s creation, I’m in nature, everything is peaceful and beautiful and…
Alright. I can’t keep this up. That’s like the tenth pile of animal feces I’ve stepped over. I’m sorry, but I think we’re done here. I love nature and everything, but this is no Garden of Eden.
Many years ago, I went camping with a few friends of mine. We drove for like five hours to this really beautiful place in the Texas Hill Country called Enchanted Rock. I remember actually hoping that it would be a good opportunity to get away from it all and connect with God. So the second day we were there I went off alone and found a secluded spot on the face of this enormous hunk of granite jutting hundreds of feet into the sky and I just sat down there, enjoying the view. I was hoping to have a moment like Elijah had on Mount Horeb in 1 Kings 19.
Thankfully that day there wasn’t an earthquake or a fire on Enchanted Rock, but there was a lot of wind. And just like Elijah, I didn’t hear God in the wind, or in any of the other sights and sounds that were going on all around me.
But I think I did hear a still, small voice. It said, “What are you doing out here? Don’t you get that you didn’t have to drive halfway across the state to meet with me?”
Nature doesn’t have a monopoly on Creation. Our actual, day to day lives, even in all their messiness, are a part of God’s creation too. In fact, they may be the least messy parts of God’s creation. It’s great to get away once in awhile, but we don’t need nature to be able to connect with God. We just need to be tuned in wherever we happen to find ourselves. Where you are, right now, is a gift. This place, and others like it, they are your habitat. Your house, your car, your work or school, your grocery store, God has placed you there. God is the maker of heaven and earth. That includes the Grand Canyon, but it also includes your kitchen, your bathroom, and your couch.
In spite of all the messiness, may you experience the richness and the beauty of God’s creation wherever you are today.