Lots of people will tell you that they feel closest to God when they are outside enjoying nature. I am not one of them. But don’t get me wrong … I love being outside, hiking, backpacking, canoeing and camping. I appreciate God’s creation, but I don’t go there to learn about Him, or deepen my relationship with Him.
But I do like learning about everything there is to know about wilderness skills and outdoor survival. One of the first books I ever bought for myself was the SAS Survival handbook. It was also the first book I put almost entirely into memory. I was the only ten-year old in my class who could tell you how to field dress a protruding fracture, identify edible fungus, and build a shelter out of a fallen tree. Yes, being outside exploring the escarpment, paddling on the bay, or watching the stars through my telescope recharges my batteries in a way that little else can.
Well, with one exception. I love teaching my children many of those same skills. Finding safe drinking water (and how to know), identifying plants and animals, finding your direction using only a watch, or a stick, or the stars at night. And while they humour me … cause you never know when you might get lost in the woods … they often remind me that there are more important things in life. And they are right.
Teaching them survival skills can only delay the inevitable. Even the best survivalist will eventually die. And teaching them about God’s creation doesn’t teach them anything about God. Not the important things anyway … like where you can find Him when you need Him. For that a different kind of teaching from a different kind of book is needed. Teaching the statutes of God, the history of His gracious presence among us, especially in the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son. God is truly with us, just as He has always been with His dear children.
He is with in Christ to bring healing to broken bodies, spirits, and lives. He is with us to raise the dead to life … a life not just of surviving, but of thriving! He is with us to provide us with the food that nourishes body and soul. The Bread of Life and the Water of Life, both without limit or measure. He is with us to give us guidance through His Word and forgiveness when we lose our way. He is with us in Christ, preparing us for the secure and safe dwelling already awaiting us when our journey is done and there are no more paths left for us to trod in the here and now. A warm and inviting home, full of family and friends, food and cheer enough for eternity.
Yes, these are the things that are important to teach, to remember, to enjoy … and that is why on Sunday morning you will not find me and mine out enjoying nature. You will find us safely at home in God’s House, learning again, what really matters. Remembering what God has already done and looking forward to what He has yet in store. Learning not just how to survive, but to actually live!