God Reveals Himself through the Wilderness

Berray Mountain Lookout, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana
Berray Mountain Lookout, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana

I was reading a book yesterday where the author unexpectedly started talking about how close he felt to God when he was in the wild places.  He had some great quotes from John Muir, who found God in the wilderness, as well as a few others.  One of my favorite quotes was from British journalist J.B. Priestley: “The Colorado River made [the Grand Canyon].  But you feel when you are there that God gave the Colorado River its instructions.”

The Grand Canyon from Horseshoe Mesa, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon from Horseshoe Mesa, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Sadly, the author – despite growing up in church and having no hard feelings toward the Gospel – fully admits that he has not submitted his life to Christ.  He finds God in the wilderness yet has no relationship with that God outside of feeling that some “higher power” had a hand in making these amazing masterpieces.  “I want to feel connected to something greater than myself,” he wrote, “But I no longer think there’s one single path that leads to enlightenment or salvation.”

Mt. Baker from the Lake Ann Trail, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington
Mt. Baker from the Lake Ann Trail, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

That’s a viewpoint I run across almost daily in my generation.  They believe there is “something” out there – whether they call it God, the universe, or another term.  It’s often nature that convinces them that there is something more than outer space out there – I’ve rarely met outdoorsy atheists.

Stars over the Alabama Hills, California
Stars over the Alabama Hills, California

The Psalms say, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands… They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth” (Psalm 19:1, 3-4a).  Job said, “As the animals… or the birds of the sky… let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” (Job 12:7-9).  Paul wrote, “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).  You don’t have to be a Christian to see what God has done and to respond to that.

Mountains near Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington
Mountains near Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington

God has become, to far too much of my generation, as a “something” out there.  Not a good Father (Matthew 7:11), not a Savior from sin (1 Peter 3:18), not a God so interested in us that he counts the very hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7) – just some sort of distant and disinterested being beyond the confines of our world.

Iceberg Lake Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
Iceberg Lake Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (Romans 1:8).  The very fact that these precious people understand God through His creation means that they have an open door to meet the real Jesus – the One Who not only can save them, but Who can and will fill them with the very thing that they are longing for.

Hoodoos from the Fairyland Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Hoodoos from the Fairyland Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

I believe that many will meet God – the real God – as they pursue that feeling they get in the wilderness.  They can explain it away with fancy terms like ‘the universe.’  But God is a God waiting to be found, a God Who loves to the point of sacrificing Himself, a God Who will meet you where you’re at if it comes to it.  God is drawing a generation to Himself through the wilderness, and I can’t wait to be a small part of helping people find the true desire of their hearts through the things they find beautiful, spectacular, and awe-inspiring.