7 things I have learned in September
September has been for me a month of embracing meeting with God in creation every day. It has been the start of a year long spiritual discipline journey (which you can read about here). As September draws to an end I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learned as I have spent time with God in creation this month.
(For those of you who have also spent time intentionally with God in creation this month I would love to hear what you have learned too! Leave a comment and let me know what you have learned!)
Throughout the month I have written down things I have been learning to share at the end of the month, so here we go…
1. Being in creation is a way of ‘doing’ something whilst ‘being’ with God - something we can share together.
Sometimes I find that my quiet times can become all about ticking off a list of things to do: prayer, tick, Bible, tick, worship, tick etc and whilst I do meet with God in those times, I sometimes (read ‘often’(!)) find it difficult to just be with God. Although I did take my phone out with me on my times with meeting God in creation so I could read the Bible and take photos, most of the time I was able to enjoy being outside and being with God in His creation without feeling I needed an agenda. It soothed my striving self! Some days I literally felt the excitement of the Holy Spirit as He showed me things He had created or as I noticed them - not unlike my children when they create something and enjoy sharing it with me. I was humbled and wowed by the ways that God has made a whole detailed world, most of which goes unseen or ignored, for His children to enjoy. I felt my eyes were opened further to enjoy and understand Him as the Creator of this world.
2. Reading the Bible in Creation brings a completely different perspective to the Word and brings it alive in a new way.
The is something different about reading ‘Your love reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies’ when you are sat in front of the ocean with the sky huge and wider than you can take in in one look. There is something different about reading that ‘upon the people who lived in darkness a light dawned’ when you are enveloped in darkness wondering when the sun will rise and then suddenly seeing it silently slip into view and then triumphantly yet silently explode on the horizon in splendor. Meditating on Scripture is much easier when you have a visual aid!
3. I understand perhaps why Jesus spent so much time teaching outside: it was a neutral ground where people could easily come and participate and connect. It was natural publicity for His message and He was visible to those around Him.
One of the things we found as a church as we met outside this month for some of our prayer meetings / gatherings is that other people who were passing by became interested in what we were doing and came and joined in. Not a huge number of people, just two or three, but they are people who encountered God in ways they wouldn’t have if we had been inside. I was also challenged by the idea that meeting inside is the ‘normal’ for church, which seems so strange when God created a whole world for us to meet with Him in, and His original place of relationship for Him and mankind was in a garden.
4. Being outside in creation never gets boring.
I don’t know why I was concerned that I would easily get bored going to the same places in creation this month. Those places are constantly changing! The plants are sprouting and budding, I find new things on the beach every day. This week I have discovered a spot where I can sit and the crabs will all come out and go about their business. I have never observed crabs in their natural habitat before and it was fun to see what they did and how they reacted to birds flying over. Even living in a place where the seasons are so subtle it took me several years before I even noticed how one season varied to another, when you look and observe what is going on you realize there is constant change and new things happening.
5. God is bigger
I know this sounds like a ridiculous statement to make, but I realized how much I have limited and boxed God and my faith. Intentionally meeting with God outside is relatively new for me, but He has been there all the time - there is a whole world I haven’t yet explored with Him. As I find new things every day I realize how small and insignificant I am in comparison to Him in a comforting way. When I look at the details of a shell or the way creatures are so well adapted to their habitats, I have no problem believing that God cares about the details of my life too. When I see the vastness of the ocean and the sky, I realize God is so much more powerful and able than I have previously given Him credit for. That has increased my faith.
6. I don’t care enough about what God cares about.
God cares deeply about His children and that is clearly demonstrated in the beautiful world that He created for them to enjoy relationship with Him. He also gave us, His children the responsibility to care for His world and we can do so much more to honour the trust He has given us. We don’t all have the sphere of influence to be world changers but we all have influence and ways we can care about creation - habitats, animals, protecting places of beauty for our children to enjoy too. You can read more about my thoughts on how we can care for creation without getting overwhelmed here.
7. There is a freedom in creation that speaks about heaven
Nobody holds down the birds, the crabs, the plants. They go about their business of flying and excavating and growing without someone pushing them about or telling them what to do or how to be. Being on the beach with the roaring waves means that no one can hear when I sing loudly or pray out loud. There has been a freedom in relationship with God that is heavenly this month - just responding in relationship with Him as I feel led without worrying who is watching or wondering about my influence over other people.
I recognize that the things I have learned are different from other people, just as my relationship with Jesus is a personal one. I hope you have enjoyed hearing my reflections and that they have inspired you to get outside with God. As with anything new, it takes a while to work out what works best and how we each individually meet with God. But I encourage you to give meeting with God in creation a try if you haven't already!
So what else? Well, as well enjoying new ways to interact and be with God this month I have also felt healthier as I have ended up walking much more and breathing in all the sea air! I have found regular slots in my week like walking home from dropping Kaleb off at preschool when I can meet with God in creation. Spending time in creation is something I plan to keep as a regular part of my week and my walk with God as I begin to focus on the next spiritual discipline for October - which is...worship! I love that being in creation makes it so easy to worship God, so I love how one flows into the other.
Looking forward to sharing with you about worship in October and hearing from you about how you have been meeting with God in creation this month. Don’t forget to let me know in the comments!