Have you ever considered nature a sanctuary? A sanctuary is a place of refuge and also a place of worship. Nature as one of God’s sanctuaries makes perfect sense to me. Read on to find out why I think this, plus get some insight into how you can start seeing nature as one of God’s sanctuaries too.
Nature as a Sanctuary of Refuge
Many people walk in a church, trail their fingers over the pews, kneel at the alter and find sanctuary. And that is wonderful! It can feel like coming home with memories of salvation and baptisms, family and friends, and laying burdens down at that alter.
Many also find that same refuge in nature, among the heart of creation.
Have you ever been stuck in a building, perhaps in a stressful situation, and just longed for a breathe of fresh air, to feel the sunshine on your face, and the wind blow through your hair?
Did you ever consider that longing was God drawing you outside? To experience the work of His hands? To feel Him?
Nature can be a physical, visual reminder of God and the refuge He offers.
You can look unto the hills from where your help comes from. Psalms 121:1-2
You can observe the birds that God cares for and be reminded that He loves you even more. Luke 12:24
You can climb the mountain before you and rest in the valley.
You can look at the stars and the heavens and know that God is mindful of you.
[alert color= “green”] When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalms 8:3-4 [/alert]
You can walk along a forest path and have a canopy of trees cover you, offering a reprieve from the worries of the world.
Nature as a Sanctuary of Worship
I am in awe when I look at the mountains, the beautiful landscape surrounding me, or waters that stretch before me. And I haven’t even began to see all that God created!
It is important to point out that I don’t worship nature and creation. I worship God, the Creator of it all.
If He can create the mountains and the seas, what can He do in me? Man is considered the crown of His creation, made in His image and likeness. It is amazing to ponder.
Joy and wonder swell in me til I could just burst. How great is our God!
I don’t think I can adequately express the feelings of worship and praise that I experience when I take in the wonders of His work. I’m at a loss for words sometimes.
“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” Nehemiah 9:6
Nature’s Sanctuary vs. Traditional Church
Going in to the wilderness to find a sanctuary isn’t just a reason to skip church nor is it a replacement for regular church attendance.
My son went on his first backpacking trip when he was 11. We allowed him to “skip church” to attend the trip with his Scout troop (Scouts are another conversation!). I picked him up Sunday afternoon and asked him how his weekend was.
“Oh, Mom,” he said, “the waterfall was beautiful. I sat there knowing I was missing church this weekend, but really felt that I was in the prettiest sanctuary ever.”
As the years went by, he attended church regularly and also went on weekend backpacking trips. Rather than draw him away from God, these adventures into nature’s sanctuary have drawn him closer to God. They have stretched his faith and made him seek God’s plan for his life.
God spoke to him during these moments in nature, during the times he “skipped church”.
Am I advocating no traditional church attendance? No!
But I am advocating experiencing God in creation. In retreating outside, to the wilderness, to discover the wild lover of your soul.
You Can Experience Nature as God’s Sanctuary
Maybe you don’t know about this God stuff, and just don’t get what I am talking about. You’re a little skeptical. Want to know more? I have a page just for you.
Maybe you are a Christian but just haven’t ventured outside with a heart yearning to see Jesus.
Here’s some tips to help you experience nature as God’s sanctuary:
- Recognize that a close walk with God in your daily life will make you more sensitive to Him when you do venture outside. God doesn’t want to be just your hiking buddy. He wants to share your everyday life. Don’t wait to spend time with God until you are outside!
- Search the Bible for verses about creation, nature, mountains, rivers etc. Meditate on those. You will be more likely to recognize His hand. Viewing nature through God’s Word will bring it to life.
- Pray before you go out. Ask God to reveal Himself to you, to give you ears to hear and eyes to see the wonder of creation. Consider making a prayer journal for your adventures outside.
- Be still. Many outings into nature involve a hike or other physical activity, which is great. Just be sure to take time to actually be still and wait on God and observe His world around you. Take the time away from the busyness of the modern world to spend time praying and seeking God.
- Be intentional. Go outside expecting to see God. Make a point to look for Him in your surroundings. Remember, God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
Also, don’t be surprised when you least expect it, God will reveal Himself to you.
I want to close with a reminder that ultimately we are a sanctuary. We don’t have to be in a specific place, whether it be a church building or outside, to worship God and find refuge in Him. He is with us always, and our lives should represent His sanctuary.