Research shows we are becoming an increasingly indoor culture, and as a result we are losing our connection to nature. The benefits of getting outside, for us and our children, stretch further than what we imagine, starting with our spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual health, and ending with a greener earth for generations to come. The urban sprawl, parental fears, and the overuse of screens and technology are making it more difficult for us to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors. It’s as if the Earth is crying out for some much-needed care and attention, tired of being merely consumed. In the Pacific Northwest, where I’m from, months of lingering rain (even into June!) can provide an additional excuse to stay inside. Being wet and muddy and putting myself and my kids at risk of getting a cold isn’t my idea of a fun afternoon.
In his book, Raising a Wild Child, author Scott Sampson, reminds us that it’s not the one-time emotionally charged, extravagant nature excursions, but the everyday strolls around the neighborhood or the backyard explorations that cultivate a lifelong love and connection to nature.
“Nature also has an unparalleled capacity to stir our emotions, fostering raw and powerful feelings of wonder, awe, mystery, joy—and, yes, fear. Smelling a wildflower in an alpine meadow, sprinting into the ocean surf, and sharing a face-to-face encounter with a coyote are all experiences that differ mightily from virtual alternatives.”
Now, you are probably wondering where I’m going with all this, right?
If I’m honest, I naturally tend to towards an indoor kind of faith, and slowly over time I disengage from the mysterious, wild part of God’s heart. My life lacks the vibrant color and tangible proof of His presence in me. I forget what it’s like to listen to and walk in His spirit, letting Him lead me to still waters and green pastures.
We peer out of our smudgy window, glance up from our screens, and pray for more. All the while God is inviting us to open the door, come play outside with Him, and perhaps even get a little dirty.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” Psalm 103
Instead of reaching out His hand and walking with Him into the unknown, we clutch our tiny pleasures too tightly.
We stay in the cycle of our usual habits and mindsets instead of breaking free and embracing our new identity in Christ.
We stay hidden within the walls we’ve built around ourselves, whether from hurt, fear, or discouragement, instead of breathing in the wonder of His love as if it were fresh mountain air in our lungs.
He lures us into the ocean of His grace, but we’re too scared of drowning out in the open waters, where the waves rise over our head. Maybe in the sinking we’d finally surrender?
God draws me down rocky paths and winding trails towards the secrets of His heart, but I resist because I’m fearful of getting too close to Him, what will He say?
I am more comfortable with God on Sundays, where He is contained and understandable. I sit under the glow of artificial light and feast upon rumors of Him. I am warm, cozy, and all I need is within arm’s reach.
But God says, “Step out into the sunlight or the sparkling starlit skies. Let me be your light.”
“Move out from your sacred buildings and painted houses. I am the home you’ve been wanting all along.”
“Lose your obsession to stay clean, be perfect, and never sweat. Get comfortable with dirt and grime, life is messy, and we were meant to engage with it.”
“Stop merely telling stories or reading about other people’s adventures. Go out and live your own, you’ll find me there.”
We are starving for everyday encounters with God, aren’t we? The Monday through Sunday eye-witness accounts of His presence amidst our lives.
As summer approaches here in the Northern Hemisphere, let’s head out the backdoor together physically and spiritually- exploring God’s heart and cultivating a curiosity for the way He works.
In a culture that threatens to confine us to our comfy couches, making us consumers of good books on faith and God, it’s a perfect time to let our faith grow legs and run wild through the woods of the world!
Instead of getting our fill by watching from the windows, let’s reclaim our identity as God-adventurers and fervently seek to uncover His mysterious presence in the paths of our everyday lives.
God is asking us to put on our rain jackets and our mud boots or our sunscreen and hat (depending on your season with Him) and get ready for face-to-face encounters with Him. He wants to develop a real faith that welcomes dirt, uncertainty, and unexpected challenges, and can never be manufactured by staying safe inside.
So… what are you excuses?
Headed out with you,
Travel Deeper: Job 42:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, Exodus 33:11, Psalms 34:5, John 14:23, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Isaiah 43:16:19