Recently, and for the first time in over a year of living in Southern Illinois, my family experienced the St. Louis Zoo. It had been well over a decade since I’d been to the ones in Chicago, so I was ecstatic. And seeing part of God’s most exotic and majestic creation flooded my soul with delight. People asked my wife if our 1-year old Liam enjoyed it. She said, “I don’t know about him, but Gowdy surely did.”
I enjoyed it because God jolted me with the need for Christians to enjoy what he has created. The reasons for this are obvious and yet still undervalued. Hence, I want to dissect them.
Work of God, Speak
First, God communicates without a filter to us through creation. In Psalm 19, God says that while the heavens, skies, sun and all that go with them have no words, they still speak. They have a “voice”. It’s a clever play on words, but it’s also a startling truth: God talks to us through these created bodies. Back when I was a youth pastor in Chicago, one of the other adults led us to Lake Michigan before dawn every year during our Back-to School Lock-in, to watch the sun rise. That simple gesture had a profound effect on our group. It was like another Bible study. Because God spoke to us.
I have no idea if God speaks through all of creation like that, but I think it’s at least possible he implies so in Psalm 19. Regardless, I know the most important reason Christians need to be constantly interacting with creation is because we can know God through it. This is such an important truth, Paul in Romans 1 claims creation alone is so sufficient an evidence that no one has an excuse for not believing in God.
“You must become like a child…”
Secondly, a clear message we get from God’s voice heard through creation is how humbled we should be in response to surveying what God has done. In Job 38-41 God says this plainly, speaking on his own behalf. As a result, every time I stand on a beach and watch the water overwhelm my feet for a brief moment and then recede, God brings to mind this message He gave to Job, in 38:8-11:
“Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with cloud and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’
People buy beachfront property because they know there is essentially zero chance those waves will ever go beyond a certain point. Because that is how God created them. We cannot control the ocean, but God can.
This is what made the zoo trip so moving. The entire adventure made me feel like a kid again. We see elephants, tigers, lions, giraffes and zebras in books and on TV. But there is nothing like the wonder of seeing them in person. It’s breath-taking. The world kind of stops when you behold them. Few things make me feel that small and leave me that awed. It’s all from God. By bringing up Leviathan and Behemoth in that 125-verse sledgehammer sermon to Job, He endorses this truth.
We Find Truth In Beauty As Much As In A Lab
Thirdly, creation teaches us how much God values beauty and originality. Just as with those unique and exquisite zoo animals, I have learned this from taking in beaches all over the world. From Japan to St. Croix to Puerto Rico to Aruba, God has shown me just how blue and pristine water can be. And how gorgeous sand can appear to the eye. Every time I am mesmerized.
I’m also convinced God created us to create. And to create things that are beautiful and original. I believe Psalm 119 is reflection of this. The author meticulously and magnificently organized a 22-stanza acrostic (each one beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet) with 8 verses each. It is remarkable in its creativity and is quite distinct in a collection of 150 psalms. And likewise for us, whether through art or music or writing or building, we can express God’s image on us. Simply by creating.
Make it a Priority
I have no doubt that the reason so many young people make significant decisions for Christ at summer camps is sheer clarity of God speaking through his Word and through his creation, all while being removed from technology and modern conveniences.
I could give many other reasons and illustrations, but I do not want my very simple point to be lost: I encourage my Christian readers to seek out creation regularly and soak it up. Go on walks in the park. Visit zoos. Take vacations in cabins or at the beach. Watch the sun rise. Immerse yourself in nature from time to time. Enjoy it in the big things like mountains and small things like grass. Turn off your phones or leave them behind. Let God speak clearly to you through what he has created.