Short thoughts about meeting God outside
Allie and I have spent a lot of time on rivers this summer. Part of what we do over the summers is lead kayaking trips with students who just graduated high school at our local summer camp along the beautiful Guadalupe river.Lined with towering bald cypress reaching over the water forming the most wonderful of canopies, water that flows from
crystal clear in the shallows to an intoxicatingly deep sea-foam green that hides the depths, 30ft limestone cliffs with broken off boulders littering the banks and river bottom, an oasis of life among rocky and arid hills, the Guadalupe is a crown jewel of Central Texas rivers.
There are a great many reasons to love spending time on a river and a great many more ways to connect life with God to rivers, but on our most recent afternoon paddle scripture came to life. The massive, exposed roots of bald cypress along the bank illuminated Jeremiah 17:8 “They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots into the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.” Pulling our boats onto the bank while we dip our heads into the water to rest and cool off evokes the story of Jesus’ baptism and the life that river brought to the world. I see the start of Psalm 42 “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.” as we paddle by cows wadding in the stream and white tail making their way to the bank. Ezekiel 43:2 “The glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east; the sound was like the sound of mighty waters” becomes tangible as water roars around mighty rocks in the rapid we are scouting. As I close my eyes and float through a calm stretch I hear Psalm 100 “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.”
It has been said that the bible is an outside book; filled with stories of burning foliage, walks through the wilderness, meeting Jesus on the sea, parables of gardening, and natural imagery for God to name a few. Spending time outdoors transforms reading scripture from an intellectual exercise to a visceral experience, breathes life and connectedness to the story of God, and awakens a deep part of our soul. These summer paddling trips down the veins of Texas hills mysteriously lead directly to the heart of God. Next time you go outside (and it ought to be soon), remember you’re studying scripture.
By Sam Regonini