“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4
Lisa, my wife, has always wanted to see the Redwoods. In fact, it has been on her “bucket list” for years. Last summer we discovered that the National Parks have a deal where all 4th graders (and their families) get in free. So, since we have a 4th grader, I thought that there is no better time than Spring Break to fulfill one of my wife’s dreams. About six months ago, Southwest ran a special on airline tickets to California, so I grabbed some and last week we packed up the family, flew out, rented a mini-van and made the drive up to Yosemite and Muir Woods.
All I can say is – Wow!
As soon as we drove through the tunnel into Yosemite, it was stunning! There was a giant waterfall that greeted us, and al I could think was, “I just drove into heaven.” The beauty and the grandeur at every turn leaves you breathless. There is El Capitan (which I used to stare at for years on my computer), Yosemite Falls (the tallest waterfall in the United States and the fifth tallest in the world), Mirror Lake (which shows a perfect reflection of the mountains) and so much more. Everywhere you hike and look it is as if God is just showing off!
From Yosemite, we drove to Muir Woods just north of San Francisco. This is another amazing National Park. The coastal redwood trees can grow to be 360 feet tall! It is incredible to look up and up and up at. This is the equivalent of a 36 story building. There is a beautiful creek that runs through the trail and even a place on the trail called the “Cathedral,” with “Quiet Please” signs – it truly is a holy place.
From Muir Woods, we drove to Monterrey, Carmel and Big Sur. Again, breathtaking. The ocean crashing onto huge rocks. The sheer beauty of the cliffs and the expanse of the ocean makes for a place to ponder the greatness of our God. Wow – what a Creator! We saw sea otters, sea lions, dolphins, seals, and other animals. I just imagine how awesome heaven must be! All of God’s creativity unbridled and with Him at the center will fill us with constant awe and wonder.
God’s Word tells us:
“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 men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
Every civilization that has ever existed has had some form of worship. No doubt. Many of us feel so close to God when we are in nature. There is something powerful about being away from the trappings of the world and being immersed in the greatest of our God. We are renewed, refueled and inspired. We feel so small (especially standing next to a giant redwood), and yet we also feel so loved (seeing the faithfulness of the waves and knowing God is always present). We need this time for our soul.
- We all need time in nature to be refueled and renewed – Find time to be in nature – God’s sanctuary. Wherever you live, find a trail to hike, a river to kayak, a hill to climb or even a picnic to enjoy. “On average, American adults are watching 5 hours and 4 minutes of television per day.” (New York Times, June 30, 2016). Whether Netflix or sports, the fact is most people are facing a screen all day at work and at home. We need nourishment for our soul that comes from being in nature.
- We all need time with family – I’m realizing that I only have a few Springs Breaks left with Grace (she is about to be 13) as well as a few summers, Christmas, etc. I have to make the most of this time. What are the things I want my children to see and to learn? What do I want them to remember from their childhood? The time with family is valuable and priceless. Create memories for a lifetime.
- We all need time to unplug – I tried my best to stay off email and social media for the time we were away. I admit this was a challenge, and I wasn’t perfect. But, I tried to be as “fully present” as possible with my family and with my God. I believe we all need some time like this. Even if it is to “fast” for a day or a week – there is something about removing the “noise,” so we can listen to each other and to God.
- You must be intentional if you are going to do any of the above – Rabbi Hillel wrote, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Unless you plan it, it won’t happen. Whether it is accomplishing something on your bucket list, connecting with God, spending time with family or even simply unplugging for a day in order to be renewed and refreshed, you must be intentional. Life is short. Kids grow up. Invest in what matters and don’t miss the moments.
Can you remember some special times in nature growing up? How are you planning for some of these moments in your life today? And, how are you creating these moments for your family? God is drawing each of us to Himself. The problem is that we are surrounded by so much noise that we can’t hear Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8. And, who knows, you may just experience one of your “bucket list” moments in the process.