Most people spend their summers grilling outside and sipping drinks by the pool. For the past few years, that’s exactly what my summers have looked like. As I enter my late twenties, however, I’m realizing that these kinds of activities aren’t as fulfilling as they used to be. Instead of immersing me in creation, they distract me from it, so much so, in fact, that I decided to buy an RV and head out on the open road.
Of course, the idea sounded a little extreme to my friends and family, but their well-meaning caution couldn’t stop me. I knew that if I wanted to reconnect with nature, I had to completely escape city life and be alone for a while.
So I planned a 3-month trip that would take me from my home state of Pennsylvania to California and back. Was I nervous? Absolutely. But sometimes you have to follow your heart and head into the wilderness to find yourself again.
Little did I know that reconnecting with nature and my inner being would help me reconnect with God, too.
Setting Off on my Journey
As I made my way across the country, I made a point to stay somewhere new each week. In June, I camped in a state park in Arkansas, made my way through a few ghost towns in Texas and eventually ended up in Big Bend National Park. Then, in early July, I drove through Texas and into New Mexico where I explored White Sands National Park and Carlsbad Caverns. Now, I’m following a winding road through Arizona and should land in California next month.
I’ve seen more of God’s creation in the past two months than I have in my entire life, and it’s taught me so much about who God is. As Job 12:10 states, “In the Lord’s hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind,” and this verse has been made clear to me through nature’s tiniest details.
From wasps that build their nests in mud to moths that camouflage themselves against tree bark, God has made everything with such intricacy and purpose that nothing could possibly have been a mistake, including me.
I’ve also witnessed droughts and wildfires during my travels, which also point to God’s everlasting power. Isaiah 40:8 reads, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Seeing the temporality of nature — which burns bright and dies quickly — contrasted to the Lord’s eternal nature is a powerful and comforting reminder of Christ’s unending love for us.
After the fire is put out, the soil will become fertile again and life will return to the land. While I might not be around to see this new growth, the process also reminds me of God’s refining fire. Like a precious metal or the scorched soils of California, the Lord is refining, renewing and shaping me into a stronger, more faith-filled Christian. From the ashes, I will rise.
Outdoor adventures like paddle boarding and kayaking have also taught me more about what it means to follow Christ. On the river, I always follow the rules of navigation to ensure my safety. Likewise, I prepare for life’s many challenges by reading my Bible each day and praying for guidance each morning.
Even taking care of boats and paddleboards and keeping them in good condition has taught me much about my relationship with Christ. Because my body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, I must eat, rest and move often. Moreover, I must fuel myself with God’s word, scrub off my impurities and keep my inner being clean, just as I would fuel a boat with gas, remove its barnacles and vacuum the carpets and upholstery.
Immersed in God’s Presence
Of course, once you know to look for God in nature, you see the Lord everywhere. Whether I’m enjoying a walking meditation, exploring a canyon or shouting praises from a mountaintop, I can see and feel God’s presence. In this way, nature has become my church, my sanctuary, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.