Bridges and pathways to experiencing more of God: Nature, part II
As I mentioned in my previous post, I believe that God intentionally created the world so that the “no-risk proofs” we constantly attempt to manufacture are not really available. This is not just true where our relationship with God is concerned, but it is true in every area of human endeavors and relationships that really matter. But, that does not mean that evidences for truth and reality are unavailable, it just means that they never become the sort of pathway on which we can see all the way to the end.
So, recognizing that everything I am about to say is disputed by someone, and acknowledging that the creation as we experience it has a very dark side that must be examined and addressed, I still believe that there are powerful bridges and pathways in the creation, over which our Creator is willing to cross into our lives to be present with us and empower us.
EXPERIENCES in/of CREATION as GOD’S PATHWAY
God sometimes becomes present through our experiences of the Creator’s presence in the creation. The world past and present is filled with people’s stories of their experiences of God—often fully unexpected experiences—through God’s creation. Several Native American tribes seem to have especially focused on the spiritual availability of the Creator in the creation.
The Bible also contains many stories of people experiencing God’s presence via the “natural” world: Jacob’s vision of the ladder as he slept with his head on a stone in the wilderness; Hagar’s two encounters in the wilderness with God as provider and as speaker; Moses and the burning bush; Israel and the Red Sea; Elijah’s experience of roars, winds, and whispers; Paul shaking off a deadly snake; etc.
The ancient world seems to have been more amenable to these experiences than our modern world of speed and technology, but the experiences still occur for many. And, often, probably most often, these experiences of God’s presence and empowering through the creation occur not in the “miraculous interventions,” but in the encounter with “the normal” as “not so normal.”
Perhaps the experience of beauty is the most common way that humans will suddenly find themselves encountering the spiritual. Many have also suddenly encountered the transcending spiritual reality in creation as they responded to the order of the universe. Others find themselves in the presence of the spirit of God—or they might call it “the spiritual”—as they encounter and begin to unpack the intelligence that seems to be hidden throughout the universe, just waiting for us to find it and to grow in our understanding of it.
And, for some of us, experiencing “the image of God” in humanity and through individual humans is often our most powerful spiritual encounter with God as Our Creator. Even in the midst of all our bent and broken ways, often we can still glimpse the stamp of God’s goodness, mercy, graciousness, loving, caring, purposing, giving, and creativity in the people he created. Sometimes these glimpses occur as we encounter past and present cultures, and sometimes they occur in our encounters with individuals of the past and of the present. And once in a while those glimpses become an overwhelming experience of the spiritual presence and empowering of the Creator.
In my upcoming blog posts, I want to look at a few of the many Biblical passages that speak in challenging ways concerning the creation, then I want to mention a few of the many ways the Biblical writers used “natural” imagery in their writings. Finally, I plan to note a few of the dangers in attempting to limit God’s self-revelation to “nature only,” as some seekers of the spiritual tend to wish to do.