Experience God in Nature
Yael Eckstein | September 20, 2020
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. — Psalm 29:3
In honor of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his lifework helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.
A long time ago, I taught Hebrew school in Manhattan. One Sunday, the school took a field trip to neighboring New Jersey. As the bus drove out of the Lincoln Tunnel and into the greener scenery of New Jersey, I started to joke around with these city kids. “See that thing over there with the brown pole-looking bottom? That’s called a ‘tree.’ See that green stuff covering the ground? We call that ‘grass’!”
I was poking fun at how living in New York City can make a person think that the whole world is filled with nothing but manmade buildings and stores to shop in. Yet, the truth remains that with the popularity of city living, we are losing out on nature. And that’s a pity, because we can experience God in nature
Psalm 29 speaks about the glory of God. God’s “voice” is mentioned seven times in accordance with seven different things that His voice can do. According to Psalm 29, God’s voice controls stormy waters; it is powerful; it is majestic; it breaks trees; it causes lightning; it makes deserts shake; and it strips forests bare.
In other words, God communicates with the world through natural phenomena. In this case, we are talking about natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, and tornados. Most commentaries believe that this psalm is a prophecy for how God will fight against Israel’s enemies during the end times. However, the message for us right now is that God is in nature, so we had better pay attention.
Many people have often wondered why God picked Moses to be His chosen leader. However, when we look at the Bible, the truth is that in a way Moses chose God. According to Jewish tradition, the burning bush through which God communicated with Moses for the first time had been burning as others walked by it. The difference is that Moses stopped to look at it. He was attuned to nature and sensed that there were important messages within.
God sends us messages through all nature. He makes natural disasters, but He also creates wonders, beauty, and sustenance. He is the God who makes trees and fruit grow, who makes flowers blossom, and who brushes through our hair gently with the wind.
Once there was a little boy who told his father that he wanted to go out to the forest to pray. “But God isn’t any different in the forest, you know,” said his father. “I know,” said the boy. “But I am.”
This week take some time to go out in nature and experience God, even if the only way you can do that is by looking up at the majestic sky. This is a great way to come closer to God, hear His voice, and heed our calling.
Where do you connect with God’s voice? Share your answer in the comment section below.