A Pure Form of Acceptance

Rock formations in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico

Rock formations in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico

A few weeks ago, a hiking friend posted on social media her thoughts about acceptance and the wilderness.  She ended by saying,

 

“In nature, though, I’ve found myself more at peace than ever before. The water, trees, and critters don’t judge me. They just let me be myself with reckless abandonment—and that is the most beautifully pure form of acceptance I’ve ever experienced.”

Showy Fleabane near Cracker Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana

Showy Fleabane near Cracker Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana

It’s odd how accepted we feel in nature.  How much we don’t feel judged.  How much we can just be ourselves, as we are, with the option to grow and change.  And as we go through those changes, that creation is accepting those changes without raising eyebrows at the mistakes we make along the way.

Reflections at Turning Point Park, New York

Reflections at Turning Point Park, New York

Because in some ways, when we’re out in the wilderness, we know that here, alone, no one cares if we make (non-life-threatening) mistakes.  And that’s a level of freedom most people only dream about.

Sunrise at the Cloud Cap Campground, Oregon

Sunrise at the Cloud Cap Campground, Oregon

I believe the truth comes down to the fact that God put a bit of Himself in all His creation.  It’s not being alone that brings us freedom.  It’s being among the things that God made, that have his fingerprints all over them, that we find that acceptance and peace.

North Clear Creek Falls, Colorado

North Clear Creek Falls, Colorado

Jesus said, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47), and again in John 3, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (v.17).  Neither God nor Jesus, who only did what the Father was doing (see John 5:19, etc.), thought their first method of attack was to judge – instead, their first tactic was to “save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Sea Star on Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Sea Star on Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

It’s odd how so many Christians believe that God’s first agenda is judgment.  Somehow they believe that, sure, Jesus came to save them, but now that they’re saved, judgment is the primary objective of God’s relationship with them and with the ‘sinners’ around them.

Cliffs along the Potash Road, Utah

Cliffs along the Potash Road, Utah

The problem with this kind of thinking is that you become what you behold.  And if you’re beholding a God of judgment, you, too, will become judgmental of the people around you.  And if you’re judging, you can’t display the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Fall bushes along the Timberline Trail, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

Fall bushes along the Timberline Trail, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

John wrote, “God is love… there is no fear in love.  Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment [judgment]” (1 John 4:8, 18)

Winter at Ontario Beach Park, Rochester, New York

Winter at Ontario Beach Park, Rochester, New York

There will come a time for judgment – it’s pretty clear in Revelation.  You can’t go around sinning and running away from Jesus and expect to get off easy.  But Jesus’ mission, first, is to save.

Exploring the area around Tincup Pass, Colorado

Exploring the area around Tincup Pass, Colorado

My friend, in the wilderness, found acceptance and freedom in the lack of judgment of God’s creation.  It’s a beautiful thing to find.  In the wilderness and with certain individuals, I’ve found that acceptance that is God – coming to save and not to condemn.  And as we behold the God Who saves and spend time with Him in His creation, we can become like that – not condemning, allowing others freedom to be who they are, and pointing them toward the One Who is in us.