God often speaks to me through nature. There is something about a waterfall, or a misty mountain that is soothing to my heart. To be out in the forest on a trail is the place I get to know him best. Somehow becoming familiar with the creation opens my eyes to the creator. His personality shines through in the rays filtering through the trees to the forest floor. The variety of mosses and ferns create a lush green carpet which point to the intricate complexity of his nature. Being a hiker, I have come to know him through my senses. He is alive. Real. His life pulses in the out of the way places. He is as steadfast as mountains, as joyful as rivers, as peaceful as a lake, as powerful as a waterfall, and all of this has become familiar to me. It feeds my soul.
When we went to visit Hannah in Seattle this summer, I was excited to get to explore a new region of the country. Surrounded by several different mountain ranges it is a hot spot for outdoor types and lovers of nature. I wish I had the time to describe our daily adventures in detail, but there are really not enough words to tell you how spectacular it was. It was truly inspiring. Every. Single. Day. However, there was something vastly unfamiliar in these places of stunning beauty, and this had me flummoxed for the first couple of days. Until I realized that it was the nature of God that was different. Allow me to explain.
In the evergreen forests the trees are straight as arrows and taller than any trees I have seen before. Their arms do not reach up, but slant downward as if they are bowing. The mountainsides are jagged, not smooth. The reddish rock is exposed everywhere upon the faces of the mountains, bringing serrated texture which reaches towards the sky. The heavens vacillate between gray and blue on the days we are there, with misty rain or blinding sun depending on which way the wind is blowing. The palette is different here, mainly greens, grays, and blues with a few browns mixed in. It is a cool palette that is dissimilar than the warm one I am used to. In the woods, the underbrush isn’t thick, but sparse. Pine needles cover the ground like carpet and they pad your steps. The path the waterfalls take is carved from black volcanic rock, like a flume from a water ride rather than dirt and mud. Ferns to my waist cover the ground, so I wade in an ocean of them. Gigantic trees are smaller cousins to the Redwoods, but bigger than any I have ever seen. I have the need to pat and hug them, these ancients. Standing in their presence brings awe to my soul. I am acutely aware of how small I am in this forest. I fully expect to see a T-Rex come around the bend at any moment, because these forests look prehistoric.
The coastal landscape is equally amazing. The water, whether it is the sound or the sea, is clear, crisp and COLD. My feet turn to ice the moment they go into the sea, but I am determined to wade in the Pacific while we are there. It rushes in with force enough to bring huge driftwood trees to the shore. It carves rock into haystacks of enormous proportions, and creates caves and cliffs that take my breath away. There are islands and each one looks untouched and a bit wild in its stance. Like guardians of the coast. The glacier fed rivers are transparent ice water which magnifies the rocks in the bed underneath. Every one of them a skipping stone in their perfectly round smooth shapes and colors. The grandeur of every scene we encounter is enough to have me pulling out my woefully inadequate phone camera, in hopes that one of the million photos I take will do the scenery justice. It does not. Can not. There is only the moment and I decide to forego the camera…but only until the next curve has me trying to capture it once again.
In this place I hear God. I see him. But not in the way I am used to. Here he is the Ancient of Days. The one from the beginning of time and before that. He is wild, untamed and passionately creative. His love is fierce and full of power. His freedom is immense and flows out like the wind, if I will just risk the ride. It is not a safe place…it is a wild place. This part of him is unfamiliar to me, and once again I am reintroduced to this God whom I love. I am reminded that his bigness is incomprehensible, and that the more I know him, the more I don’t know him. It is yet another side of his character that is multifaceted and can never be fully known. My new image of the ferocious love of God is enough to make me realize that he will never let me go. His ancient-before-the-dawn-of-time grace will not let him. As small as I am, he takes care to nurture my spirit even among the giant prehistoric landscape. It humbles me that in these places of such stunning wild beauty, that the Ancient One considers me beautiful. It is beyond my grasp. It will take an eternity to explore him and I cannot wait!