Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

5 Ways Nature Reveals the Wonder of God’s Character

  • Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2021 10 Mar
sunset skies nature background

Our Creator’s qualities are on display in creation. Every time we go outside to explore nature, we can learn something awe-inspiring about God. Romans 1:19-20 explains that those who want to know more about God can discover his qualities in the natural world: “For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Whenever we’re immersed in the wonder of nature, we’re reminded that we have a wise and loving Creator who sustains all of creation – including us – in powerful ways. Here's how five aspects of nature commonly found around the world – the sun, water, rocks, trees, and flowers – reveal the wonder of God’s character, adapted from my book Wake Up to Wonder:

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Boonyachoat 

1. The Sun Reveals God’s Life, Hope, and Wisdom

God is the ultimate light, and the sun shines a spotlight on that reality. The sun symbolizes life that comes from a loving Creator who cares for creation. It shows us God’s fiery love, which motivates him to give us life and sustain our lives. The Bible calls God the “sun of righteousness” in Malachi 4:2, “true light” in John 1:9, “light of the world” in John 8:12, “consuming fire” in Deuteronomy 4:24 and Heb. 12:29, “refiner’s fire” in Malachi 3:2, and “bright morning star” in Revelation 22:16. Just as all forms of life on Earth need sunlight to grow physically, we need the light of loving relationships with God to grow spiritually.

The sun sheds light on how God shines hope into the darkness of this fallen world. The Bible uses light imagery in Ephesians 1:18-19 when describing the hope God offers: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” Physically, light always overpowers darkness. The photons in light can dispel darkness, but darkness cannot dispel light. You can see this by entering a dark room and turning on a flashlight there. The light will be visible in the darkness, even if there’s just a small amount of light in a great amount of darkness. This same principle applies spiritually, as the light of hope is always stronger than the darkness of discouragement and despair. No matter how dark our circumstances are, God can change them for the better by shining his light of hope into our lives.

Also, the sun reveals how God enlightens us with wisdom to know the truth and make the best choices. The Bible connects light with wisdom in 2 Corinthians 4:6, proclaiming that God “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.” Jesus says he is the source of enlightenment: “‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

Ocean

2. Water Reveals God’s Salvation Work, Clarity, Purity, and Mercy

Water splashes God’s salvation work into our focus. In John 4:10, Jesus uses the term “living water” to declare his role as the world’s Savior. A few verses later, Jesus uses the imagery of water to describe his gift of salvation: “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14). Water, which is essential for our bodies to thrive, points us toward saving relationships with God so our souls can thrive.

Water is constantly moving around our planet through natural cycles such as precipitation; evaporation; freezing, melting; currents in oceans, rivers, and lakes; the flow of groundwater, etc. God is moving in our lives in every moment, often unseen but always at work. Water contains wondrous power that people tap into for hydropower energy, which reminds us of God’s even greater power to transform our lives.

Water, which has reflective qualities, also shows how the Holy Spirit counsels us with wise guidance. God does so when we reflect on our lives and ask for his help to live well. Water symbolizes clarity and purity. It inspires us to look clearly at our lives and purify them by working with God for positive change to happen. 

Finally, water symbolizes God’s great mercy toward us. Just as water cleanses our bodies from dirt, God cleanses our souls from sin. The ancient practice of baptism in water shows this. As people immerse themselves underwater, they accept God’s forgiveness and let their sins wash away. As they rise from the water, they celebrate God’s salvation gift through Christ, made possible by his resurrection.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/thenata 

3. Rocks Reveal God’s Trustworthiness, Handiwork, and Eternal Yet Dynamic Nature

Rocks, which are reliably strong, point to the fact God is trustworthy. The Bible calls God “rock” in First Corinthians10:4, “living stone” in 1 Peter 2:4, and “cornerstone” in Isaiah 28:16. Any type of rock can inspire awe in us, which deepens our trust in God. As Deuteronomy 32:4 declares: “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”

The wonder of God’s handiwork is on display in every rock – from small pebbles at a creek to huge boulders on a mountain. Beautiful gemstone rocks called crystals display God’s craftmanship in special ways. Chapter 28 of the Book of Exodus describes how God instructed Moses to have the Hebrew people make a breastplate with 12 different gemstones. Each stone represented one of the 12 tribes of Israel and included crystals with beauty that people continue to admire today: amethyst, ruby, sapphire, emerald, topaz, turquoise, and more.

Rocks also reflect God’s eternal yet dynamic nature. The 3 different types of rocks on Earth all have long-lasting durability yet are formed through dynamic processes. Metamorphic rocks come from intense heat and pressure, igneous rocks result from volcanic explosions, and sedimentary rocks form when layers of sediments compact together and harden. Rocks literally set the history of our planet in stone. 

4. Trees Reveal God’s Wisdom, Protection, and Connected Presence

Trees grow our perspective so we can understand more of God’s wisdom and protection for us. Jeremiah 33:15 uses tree imagery in a prophecy about Jesus coming to Earth in the future. “In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.” Trees, which stand tall as silent guardians of all around them, can help us put roots into the solid ground of God’s loving care for us.

Experiencing the wonder of trees can teach us valuable lessons when we take the time to learn them. Trees, which tower over us and exceed our lifespans, enlarge our perspective. They show we are each part of something much bigger than ourselves, so we can look beyond our circumstances to God.

Since trees stand in the same places for years, they also reflect God’s constant presence in our lives. God’s love constantly flows through the branches of relationships between us and other people. Trees remind us that our personal stories are all connected to a greater story of what God is doing on Earth. 

5. Flowers Reveal God’s Order, Fun, and Beauty

5. Flowers Reveal God’s Order, Fun, and Beauty

Flowers make our minds blossom with an awareness of God’s beauty. They display the mix of God’s orderly intelligence with fun, playful ideas. The wonder of flowers reminds us that God is the ultimate gardener. God formed the first human being out of soil (Genesis 2:7) – the same environment that nourishes flowers – and loves to see us grow and bloom. Jesus empowers that to happen when we’re in relationship with him. He compares himself to a flowering plant (a vine) when he says, “I am the true vine and my father is the gardener” (John 15:1) and “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus was resurrected from a garden tomb, redeeming humanity’s fall that had happened in the Garden of Eden.

All flowers have short lives. They bloom briefly, only to decay soon afterward. Yet God sees value in the wonder of all creation – even a lowly flower. The Bible compares people to flowers numerous times and describes God’s care for both: “Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28).

Flowers are living reminders of the beauty of our Creator’s love for creation, and the wonderful joy we can experience when we’re connected to him.

The wild beauty of nature resonates deep in our souls, reminding us that a powerful Creator cares for us. Whether we’re hiking through a forest, swimming in a lake, or sniffing a rose, God will meet us there. Simply going outdoors in any natural setting can reveal something wonderful to us about God’s character!

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Malachi Brooks 


headshot of author Whitney HoplerWhitney Hopler is author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). Connect with Whitney on Twitter and Facebook.



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