By Ida Smith
It is said that an artist creates from the beauty within. Similarly, the beauty of the natural world reveals the beauty of the God who created it. Skiing reminds me of this. Riding the chairlift away from the noise and activity of the lodge, I ascend into a quiet sanctuary often shrouded in fog. Trees frosted in thick layers of snowy ice bow before their Creator in humble adoration.
Clear and pristine, this scene also reminds me of God’s purity and holiness. The intricate and unique design of each snowflake sings God’s immense creativity. In this setting I can’t help but worship God—which is his intent.
In Romans 1 Paul deals with natural revelation, or the way God reveals himself through the natural world. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
It’s easy to take for granted the beauty of the natural world. But when we consider the details and complexity of nature, we see the reflection of God’s multi-faceted character, beckoning us to worship him.
Within a day’s drive in any direction from my home at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers are fertile farmlands, thick forests, deep and rocky canyons, tall and craggy mountains, and pounding surf. Blue herons perch on the river’s edge while bald eagles and hawks soar over rapids and slack water in search of trout, steelhead, carp, and other fish. Deer graze in meadows fragrant with daisies, wildflowers, and a variety of grasses.
Blackberries, white pine, crabapple, fir, and a multitude of other trees and bushes cluster near creeks, rivers, and glens. Sparrows, cedar waxwings, and the occasional mountain bluebird flit from branch to branch in search of seeds, berries, and insects—their chatter fills the air then abruptly silences while dragonflies and emerald hummingbirds zip by at astonishing speeds.
Sweet strawberries, juicy grapes, golden wheat, crisp apples, and tart gooseberries grow among these varied landscapes. Some places are dry and arid while others are moist and lush. Each area has its own elevation and geological rock formations. Some regions receive only an inch or two of precipitation a year while others receive more than 10 feet. A variety of flora and fauna perfectly suitable for each specific terrain and climate coexist in a symbiotic relationship.
Above all is the vast endless sky that at night, away from the city lights, sparkles with stars that appear barely a millimeter apart. Nature’s beauty, variety, complexity, and vastness mirror God’s character.
Giver of Variety
Only God in his infinite wisdom and all-encompassing knowledge could dream up the vast array of sounds, smells, sights, tastes, and textures that abound in nature. He reveals his love by allowing us to perceive and enjoy them. Imagine if everything in the world were pink, had the texture of sand, tasted like parsnips, and squawked like the raspy crow. If everyone had the same personality, looked alike, and shared the same interests, life would lack wonder and a sense of adventure.
Instead, God is the God of creativity, the giver of good gifts—among which is variety. God created the sweet peach, sour lemon, and spicy habanero. He gave us soft kittens, prickly porcupines, bumpy toads, thick green jungles, and glacier fields. God created variety in the minute snowflake, the towering trees, ever-changing clouds, weather, and in the variety of seasons with their gifts of beauty and produce.
Does he create all this variety just for us? No, I believe he too enjoys variety. Why else would he create a myriad of different shaped, sized, and colored aquatic plant and animal life hidden below the ocean’s surface? Imagine God’s delight when humans discover never-before-encountered sea life, crystals, planets, or some other hidden treasure. It is like the giving of a special gift.
Provision Through Order
Nature also reveals that the Creator is a God of order, harmony, and provision. One would expect that with all the variety God has infused into our world, chaos would reign. Yet all around us, from the genetic code to the outermost galaxies, we see order. Day follows night, spring follows winter, and each species gives birth only to its own kind. There is an order to nature that time and chance could not create. Because of this built-in order we can chart, record, and predict the movement of planets and tides, the change of seasons, the time between planting and harvest, between fertilization and birth.
Nature is dependable. We know snow does not form in summer’s heat and fruit cannot precede pollination. The basic elements of nature are predictable. Their order and predictability produce a universe that works together in harmony to sustain life. This predictability and harmony also reveal God’s unchanging character and his love for us in giving us the security this predictability provides.
The sun is an excellent example. It heats the earth and sets in motion the process of photosynthesis in plants. Plants produce oxygen and food that allow humans and animals to live. In turn, we create carbon dioxide required by plants. As plants and animals die, they decay and produce nourishment for future generations. A world that can sustain ongoing life points to a Creator who is eternal and everlasting.
The Greatest Engineer
God sustains life on earth through a finely tuned interconnected set of complex systems. Many of these systems are dependent upon a balance of give and take like the interchange between plants and other living beings. There are similar systems throughout creation. The whole ecosystem is affected if one species of plant, animal, bird, fish, or insect disappears.
No plant or animal is independent of any other. Bees for example, flit from flower to flower collecting nectar for the production of honey. In the process, they pollinate innumerable plants and set in motion the production of fruits, vegetables, and nuts—and the reproduction of those plants. Due to the interconnectedness of every living being, no single species can exist independently from the others.
When we consider the various systems in nature required to maintain life, it becomes clear that the complexity of these systems could not have occurred by accident. The fact that they are dependent upon each other would require an immediate implementation, not a long process of trial and error over millions of years.
Even the existence of one of these amazing systems reveals the necessity of an all-perceiving, highly intelligent designer. But the reality is that in nature there are a myriad of intricate, interconnected, complex systems working together in harmony. Who could be so great, so knowledgeable, powerful, wise, and eternal to create such a vast, complex, beautiful, and purposefully functional universe?
Eternal Majesty, Power, and Peace
Nature and the surrounding universe reveal God’s majesty. At night we can gaze into the sky. In the darkness the heavens come alive with the twinkling light of stars and planets trillions of miles away. The sheer size and greatness of the known universe is staggering. Our word majesty comes from the Latin word for greatness. In Psalm 19:1 the writer observed, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Genesis 1 tells us that God spoke the world into existence. God is all-sufficient and created this world without anyone’s help. God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation . . . Who marked off its dimensions? . . . Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set or who laid the cornerstone?” (Job 38: 4-6).
Humans had no hand in creation and have no control over it. Storms, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, drought, and tornadoes reveal God’s strength and power.
But as much as his power can be devastating, his storms don’t rage forever. He sends the calm after a storm, quiet after a snowfall. The sweet smell after a summer rain, the chirping birds and the bold spring flowers as winter recedes. God’s peace whispers in a quiet meadow and the graceful movements of a deer. God shares his peace when we walk through the woods or meadows, along a river or beach.
Through the natural world God calls us to himself that we may know and worship him as he deserves.
Ida Smith is a freelance writer in Lewiston, Idaho.
Praising God for Nature
Get your mind in nature mode. Choose one of these activities:
• Take a walk.
• Go to the zoo.
• Read a travel book.
• Flip through a book on different types of animals or plants.
• Look at a map and think about the geography as well as the plant and animal life of each area.
• Do a Google Image search for a simple word like flower or mountain or animals.
• Watch a travel or nature show on TV.
As you engage in the activity, make lists of things in nature that are beautiful, varied, complex, vast, or that echo God’s character. Praise God that you can see who he is in so many ways.