I love the great outdoors. I think I got this trait from my father who was happiest when he was outside interacting with nature in some way, shape or form. I believe that, for him, the outdoors provided a safe and comforting place in a world of hard work and painful circumstances. In fact, one of my greatest regrets during my dad’s terminal illness was that, because of a brutally cold Indiana winter, I was unable to take him out to enjoy the great outdoors one last time.
Have you ever considered that one of God’s provisions for your health, wellness and healing lies in the perspective that can only come when you are surrounded by God’s natural creation? There is an emerging body of scientific evidence that points to the idea that taking time to enjoy nature has a significant impact on our health and well being.
In the physical realm, being in nature is associated with reduced blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and production of stress hormones. Nature also helps us to deal with pain because as we are engrossed in the beauty of nature, we are distracted from our pain and discomfort.
Time in nature helps to improve our mental state by helping us to be more calm and balanced. Nature provides a respite from our racing thoughts and promotes a positive mood and psychological well being.
From a spiritual perspective, nature reminds us that God is still here and in control, that He still loves us and that He is still worthy of our trust. He shows that He is faithful to be who He says He is each and every day as we watch a sunrise, catch a wave to body surf as the tide rolls in, lean up against an oak tree giving up its leaves, or watch the rain storm from the dry side of the window.
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… (Romans 1:20)
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 reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)
But when it comes to experiencing nature in everyday life, sometimes we just have to take what we can get. Once upon a time, I had job in a cubicle. Almost every day, I stared straight into a tan cloth pseudo wall. When I did manage to get a few minutes outside, I was walking on a paved parking lot in an industrial park. The nature that surrounded me was the sky above me, the sun that warmed me and the weeds that grew up between the cracks in the parking lot pavement. It wasn’t the forest, but it was better than nothing. But even that was enough to bring about a change of perspective.
I have found that God, in His goodness, will often bring nature to us within the context of our daily life, if we will pay attention. I am working in the kitchen and a hummingbird comes to the window. I am driving and I spot a deer at the side of the road. I am walking in the neighborhood and see the biggest, reddest flower ever. In fact, in the past few weeks, as I was going about my very daily, ordinary life, God surprised me with some beautiful perspective changing scenes:
And I remembered that He is still here and in control. He still loves me. He is still worthy of my trust. And His ability to create beauty in my average, ordinary day is beyond comprehension. This change in perspective made my mind calm down, my body slow down and my spirit smile.
Do you want an easy way to become healthier in your body, mind and spirit? God has a provision for that and it is all around you - literally. All you have to do is look for it. And when you see it, it will change your perspective and give you a reason to worship even on the most mundane or difficult day.
"Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise"
(Rich Mullins, The Color Green - A Liturgy, a Legacy & a Ragamuffin Band, Reunion Records 1993)
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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