Confession 405: Eternal Wonder

Job, consider carefully
the many wonders of God. Job 37:14 (CEV)

grand-canyon

The other day, I took my boys to see a documentary on the National Parks.  The film was shown in an IMAX theater, so the images were spectacular.  As I marveled at the vibrant colors of nature on display in Yellowstone, awed over the heights and depths of the Grand Canyon and feasted on the beautiful rock formations at Bryce Canyon, I couldn’t help but sit in wonder at God’s artistry and majesty.

Think about it for a minute.  The Grand Canyon was carved by a river roiling over rocks for billions of years.  In Yellowstone, water bursts forth from the earth in a display that spans back millenniums–a contemporary peek into the prehistoric age.  When we look at nature, we’re seeing more than God’s magnificent handiwork.  We’re getting a small peek into the eternal depths of God’s being.  And that small peek into God’s eternal depths is enough to still our wandering thoughts and wondering souls.

In nature, we see God’s infinite patience, wisdom, craftsmanship and love.  Works of art millions and billions of years in the making are on display.  They are carefully designed and meticulously crafted; most are a mixture of both form and function.

yellowstone

Like most people, I question God’s ways.  I think it’s human to wonder why things happen the way they do.  All of us, if we’re honest, have asked “Why me?”

  • Why did my relationship fall apart?
  • Why did I get this disease?
  • Why didn’t I get that job/promotion/scholarship/award?
  • Why didn’t this risk pay off?
  • Why did I fail?

If we’re not careful, our “whys” can take over our lives; robbing us of joy and ensnaring us in chains of doubt and despair.  It’s not the asking that’s the problem, it’s the constant focus on the self that the “why” brings.

In the book of Job, the character of Job asks the question, “Why me?”  His life has been torn apart.  He’s lost his family, his home, his wealth, his position in society and his health.  Job is angry at God.  He doesn’t understand why the God he has served so faithfully would betray him in such a devastating way.  Time and again Job calls out to God to come to him and provide some sort of explanation and justification for God’s actions.  Before God finally speaks, there is a small interlude.  One of Job’s friends begins to talk about the wonder of God as evidenced in nature.  He tells Job to carefully consider the wonders of God.

In essence, Job’s friends is asking Job to look beyond his own pain and despair.  He’s telling Job to focus on the bigger picture, in spite of how he feels at the moment.  You see, when we still ourselves before the great majesty of God, we see something bigger than ourselves.  We see God the Creator working in our world and universe to make something much bigger and longer-lasting than our small space of time on earth.

When we gaze up at the stars, we see infinity.  When we stand on the mountaintop, we see God’s majesty.  When we stand on the shore and feel the waves wash over our feet, we see God’s constant movement.  And when we stand in the middle of the forest regenerating itself over and over, we see God’s gift of life.

bryce-canyon

For me, nature provides a means of silencing the “whys” in my life.  When I sit on our dock and watch the turtles build their nests in the shallows of the lake, I’m transported beyond my own struggles.  Instead of asking “why”, my mind is full of wonder and appreciation for God’s work.

I love the writing of naturalist and National Parks advocate John Muir.  Muir understood, fundamentally, nature’s ability to move us beyond ourselves closer to the divine.  This week, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the “why”, try looking for the wonder outside.

Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.
– John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), p. 337.

Blessings and Peace,

Sara

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