OPENING THE BOOK OF NATURE

 “Ponderings from Patmos”hugh-taylor-birch-park_0340

Nature is the Father’s most perfect word picture book where the invisible is made visible and the unknowable made knowable.  God makes Himself available through the Book of Nature so clearly that even a child might come to understand who He is.

As the ancients used hieroglyphics to document their story, so to God depicts His story through the pictures and patterns of the created universe.  The very heavens proclaim His glory and make known His message of love and restoration.

In Genesis, when God spoke, His voice, His energy, and life moved over the waters.  It is a strange but compelling visual, as the “deep” already existed at the beginning of the Genesis account.  The invisible power of God moved through the visible element of water, which gave us God’s first-word picture as He began to reveal the most awesome love story ever created.

As a young Christian, at the age of 31, I loved the Word of God and knew faith came by hearing that Word.  No matter how much I studied and listened to the Word being taught, I had come to a real roadblock in my walk with the Lord.  I was at an impasse that seriously affected my understanding of God.  I could not grasp the Trinity.  I prayed.   I studied.   I listened, but my dilemma grew.

Often as a young man, I would journey into the woods or go to the ocean whenever faced with life’s troubling moments.  In those times of doubt and conflict, there were many voices but nothing made sense and the path to clarity was hidden from me.

My spiritual struggle becomes pronounced with no solution in sight.  So on a late April day in the mountains of Vermont, I hiked into a nearby wilderness area seeking that place where I could just ponder the things of God, as Mary had done so long ago.  “How could she be with child not having known a man?”  “How could The Lord thy God be One, but in three persons?”

I sat for the longest time on a rock by the side of the river.  The sun rose above the trees and shone brightly upon me where I rested.  There was still snow on the bank of the stream and ice along the edge of the water, but in the middle, the current was now free-flowing in the warmth of the spring sun.  It was a magical moment as I sat on the edge of time when winter dies, and spring is born. My eyes were overwhelmed by such beauty flooding the windows of my soul!

And then a mystery was revealed to me!  As I studied the small stream with the rays of the sun streaming down, a mist began to rise from the place where the ice remained on the edge of the river.  The voice of God rang in my inner ear as my eyes beheld His revelation being made plain to me by His book of nature!  There, where the water, the ice, and the vapor all assembled, I could now believe that the Lord thy God is one God in three persons and that the one element H2O, is three forms, ice, water, and vapor!!  The Word from Genesis, God’s voice moving over the water; water in the natural, gives testimony to the spiritual nature of God Himself.  Even a child, a child like me, in that moment could understand.

Thus began my introduction to the Book of Nature, God began to confirm His written Word through The Word made visual; the greatest show and tell, presented by the great Teacher Himself.

“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead, He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”   (St. Augustine of Hippo)

Fr Stephen Young

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