"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork…the law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the story of the LORD Is sure, making wise the simple…Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” − Psalm 19:1,7,14
Summer is here, and many crave to be outdoors, to bask in the sun, or to pit one’s endurance against wind and waves, or just to sit by a cool mountain stream, fishing rod in hand. What draws man to the great outdoors? Is it merely the need for rest, a change of pace that prompts that get-away urge? Or can it be the restless vestigial memory of the human race that longs for the fragrance of God’s garden and the communion of that lost innocence of Eden ?
Whatever the reason, the need is felt. A vacation is a desirable interlude that refreshes both body and spirit. We need to stand back from daily routine and take time for recreation . The word itself suggests a renewal. And there is perhaps no better way to do this than to leave behind for a time the concrete and plastic world we have fashioned for ourselves. Some call the flight to the mountains or to the shore or the countryside − “communing with nature.”
We can discover much about God by contemplation of His handiwork. We see orderliness in the sun, moon and starts that is unmatched by any of man’s puny achievements. We can try to imagine the awesome forces that pushed those mountains skyward. And we must face the fact that despite all our modern technology, our power is limited. We gaze out into starry space or stand at the ocean’s edge, hearing the roar and feeling its power, yet we realize that we that we are only a small part of God’s vast creation. We see from nature that He who created the universe loves beauty as well as order, and we sense his reality through the arranged materials of which this world is made. Truly, the heavens do declare the glory of God. But nature is only part of God’s message to man.
Many people know the first few verses of Psalm 19 that describe poetically how natural beauty transcends language to remind man of his Creator. But there is more to the 19 th Psalm. Pivotal to a complete understanding of God is the seventh verse that declares, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul.”
Though we see God’s majesty and power revealed in nature, we are not to commune with nature, but with the Creator. Romans 1:21-25 teaches that communing only with nature leads to animism, or natural idolatry. To dwell overly long on the beauties of creation without considering the Creator can be spiritually deadly because human nature flows to idolatry like the rivers run to the sea. Every tree and flower can become an idol, every grain of sand, every stick and stone an object of worship. Though nature bespeaks the beauty and power of God, only in communing with HIM do we find true and lasting renewal. But there can be no real communion with God without CONVERSION.
Here, then, is the problem. God has given three levels of revelation to man: His world, His WORD, and His WAY. If we stop at His first revelation, contemplating only what is apparent in nature, we are in danger of committing idolatry; if we stop at His second revelation, the law, we become hopelessly entangled in a legalism we cannot hope to satisfy, because although God’s law is perfect, man is not. But praise God, He has provided that third revelation, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. Through Him, God’s revelation is complete and we have conversion that leads to communion with our Creator. The last verse of Psalm 19 reads : “Let the words of my mouth, and the mediations of my heart, be acceptable in they sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
Because He is our redeemer, through conversion we are acceptable to Him. As Galatians 3:13 puts it: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse of us…”
Because of Christ, we regain that sweet communion of creature with Creator that Adam lost, and anywhere on earth, whether it’s a beautiful place or utterly desolate and ugly, becomes a lovely garden as we bask in God’s love. On a nice day God’s sun may warm our skins for a while, but God’s Son warms our hearts even when there is no other light. One day the beautiful mountains will turn to dust, and the sun will burn itself to a cinder, but God endures forever. Ecology won’t save a dying world; it’ll on stave off the symptoms. Conservation won’t preserve life, but conversion will bring new life.
To venerate earthly beauty is natural, but to be filled with the beauty of God’s holiness is supernatural. To become one with nature is to join a dying order of existence, but to become one with the Creator is to join oneself to that which is eternal and extends beyond the universe.
So, dear friends, enjoy your vacations this summer. Bit if you want to be really refreshed, you must see God not only in His world, but in His Word. Direct your eyes to the Scriptures as much as you gaze on the beautiful scenery. In God’s perfect order, the scenery should lead to the Scriptures, and the Scriptures should lead to the Savor, and He helps us enjoy it all forever.