Saturday, March 10, 2012

Missing the Forest for the Trees

...(they) worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator. Romans 1:25b

As long as I can recall, I have been fascinated and drawn in by the sensory pull of nature. Childhood memories of outdoor excursions with my father in forest, field, and on waters are misty and piecemeal; but they endure.

These visions accost me in the night, teasing me with an aging slideshow; vignettes of an earlier time. An age when my life was simpler, my joys unfettered by time, disappointment, and fear. From these nocturnal forays I awaken slowly, reluctant to rejoin the world of the conscious. I want to stay in that safe place with my father in an embrace of perpetual wonder.

But rejoin I must, for such is the lot of men. My inner child rails against it as I pass through my days. Which is the real me - the wide-eyed boy chasing frogs and fish, or the man chasing happiness that seems just beyond my grasp?

As a youth my hopes and dreams were fueled by outdoor magazines gleaned from barber shops and libraries. Authors like Gene Hill, Gordon MacQuarrie, Jack London, and Robert Ruark filled my head with notions of wanderlust and adventure in far flung-locations.

As I grew and my education germinated, I became increasingly enamored with the web of life that was before me. No longer were bass, deer and pheasants unrelated quarry to pursue: they became the portal to exploring the relationships of environment and animal.

Along the way, I discovered others on the same journey. Many have a specific focus of their outdoor passions. For some it is hunting; for others fishing, photography, hiking, and on the list goes.

My interaction with, and recognition of nature draws me in deeper. When I see a work by Da Vinci, or listen to a master musician,  I marvel at the work and drink it in deeply. I enjoy it for what it is. But that isn't enough. I marvel at the work, but it draws me in with a desire to know more about the artist.

Likewise when I look at a photo of a Cutthroat trout, or spy a raptor in flight, I revel in it. But there is draws me into worship. History is filled with people who worship nature, and it is easy to understand why. Indeed today many still worship nature in their own way. They may not offer sacrifices to animal gods, but they view a particular species as fully deserving adulation. I don't want to dismiss that; I want them to go deeper. They are worshiping a created thing that by everything it does points us to the artist. The Creator, who in his artistry placed us in the middle of his garden and set us as his masterpiece - with whom he desires a relationship.

So my friends, pursue nature, but do not stop - do not miss the Creator, ..."his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made" Romans 1:20 (partial)


tdillow said...

How amazing the Creator who created you and how poetic you've explained!!!! Thanks again!

Justin Parker said...

I'll have to remember this when we make our HT trip to Enchanted Rock ;) 2 times a tradition makes!

Brian Davis said...

Thanks for this post, Mark. I think it's tempting for many to worship nature because because of it's beauty. Deep down we all feel the need for our Creator. For many, I think nature is like the alter "to the unknown god". Sometimes I think nature is screaming "Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. (Acts 17:23 b NIV84)

By the way - Is that photo North Clear Creek Falls?

Mark said...

Hi Brian, thanks for visiting. I agree with your observation; I think for many, nature is their personal Mars Hill. Which isn;t all bad, as long as they also have a Paul to declare to them the identity of the unknown God.

Good eye on the photo, yes, we took this picture of North Clear Creek Falls on one of our visits with friends in Creede. We usually make a trip around to see several of the falls in the area as my bride has a particular fondness for them