The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Psalm 19:1

 

Summers are perfect time to get back to nature. Time outside can turn into a spiritual experience when we understand that all creation reflects God, our infinitely brilliant Creator. One of my favorite summer memories was backpacking with my son Jon in the Canadian wilderness. Long days of hiking with heavy backpacks made the adventure grueling but glorious. Sore and sunburned at day’s end, we filled our stomachs with lean but hearty camp food and talked about life. In those moments of uninhibited conversation this father and son met on the road less traveled while huddling over a warm fire. With the moon and stars piercing the inky blackness of the night it was time for us to turn in for bed. Tucked inside our sleeping bags we felt safe and warm enveloped inside our cramped but rain-worthy pup tent. Then the spectacle began. We unzipped the fly of the tent and opened it like a window to the stars. Lying on our backs it seemed like the perfect vantage point for viewing the vastness of the night skies.

 

“Hey Dad, there goes a shooting star!”

 

“Hey Son, do you see the Big Dipper and Orion’s belt?”

 

Peering into the universe God created always had the same effect on us. Each wilderness camping trip made us feel extremely small and, at the same time, immensely thankful to personally know the God who made it all. One night I remember well. The skies clouded up and in the distance we could hear the thunder roaring and echoing off the mountain faces. Soon the wind started ripping through our camp and that’s when it happened! The clouds collided and thundered, the rain began to fall and the skies lit up with powerful bolts of lightening. The inside of our little tent lit up brighter than mid-day at the electric pulse of each bolt of lightening. That’s when my son turned to me and said, “Wow Dad, God’s really putting on a show.” I looked at my son and he looked back at me…we smiled in agreement. It was a magic moment that I’ve relived many times since.

 

On starry nights I cannot help but think of great Bible characters like Abraham, who received the promise of the coming Messiah under the stars. And David, the shepherd boy chosen to be King of Israel, in the open fields watching over his father’s flocks at night. On the hillsides of Bethlehem this son of Jesse learned about the glory of God in the skies above. Later he would write Psalm 19 to re-create his boyhood impressions and reveal the God who called him to be king. A thousand years later some humble shepherds on the same hillsides would be frightened by a blast of glorious angelic light. The first announcement of the promised Savior/Messiah echoed off the hilltops. “Glory to God in the highest…for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This heaven sent message was not heard first in the temple but out in nature by shepherds camping under the stars. Their excitement was so uncontainable that they left their sheep and ran to the place where Jesus lay in a manger. That moment lives on forever.

 

What will summer hold for you and your family this year? Will that magic moment of realizing God’s presence and power happen to you? Hanging out in front of the computer or television may entertain you for a fleeting moment but it will never log memories that you and your family will remember for a lifetime. Whatever your plans are for this summer, please make room to connect with nature and the God who made it all.

 

“Each wilderness camping trip made us feel extremely small and, at the same time, immensely thankful to personally know the God who made it all."

"On starry nights I cannot help but think of great Bible characters like Abraham, who received the promise of the coming Messiah under the stars."

"What will summer hold for you and your family this year? Will that magic moment of realizing God’s presence and power happen to you?"

©2013 CORNERSTONE CHURCH

1000 N. STUDEBAKER RD.

LONG BEACH, CA 90815