This is an article I wrote for the Winston Salem First Genesis Magazine: I can honestly say that I have always felt the comfort and peace of God in the woods. As a kid the confines of trees and creeks were my refuge and escape from my unstable home life. My friends lived under rocks, behind the bark of trees, and in the leaf litter. At a very early age I fell in love with God’s creation and most interestingly the things that I chose to love the most were those creatures that were stigmatized and hated by most. I seemed to feel the safest around the animals that amusingly enough were the most dangerous.
I spent several years in a rigorous environmental biology program at a local university and through a series of events I found myself recommitted to Christ and dropping out of that school to enroll in a ministry program at an online Bible College. It definitely seemed crazy at the time but makes perfect sense now. I spent the next couple years studying to the point of exhaustion and staying busy doing “ministry.” I ended strong and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Biblical studies but I was just worn out. During that time I somehow seemed to forget about going to the place God had never failed to meet me.
After two years of serving, striving and all around just hard charging for Jesus I feel like this season is one of rest. There is only one problem though; I have no idea what resting in the Lord looks like. I have taken time alone lately to just walk in the woods and let God speak to me, no agenda, just embracing the silence and presence at the same time. It is hard to describe but I feel like God is just calling me to a season of listening. My prayer is that I am willing and able to slow down just enough to hear him. It seems that I forget to just sit in His presence and listen; I got too caught up in trying to minister to others that I forgot to allow God to minister to me. It’s almost like I forgot how to receive his love.
God has really re-awakened my love for the outdoors and creation and He is blessing me with his voice through those created things. A walk in the woods for me seems more about spending time with the father than about anything else. He continually gives me analogies about how to relate scripture to his creation and it makes His word that much more alive for me. It seems that when I can get away from the distractions of technology and the hustle of the world, God's voice is all the more clear. Jesus spoke in parables to his disciples and countless others and it seems that his message for me is best understood through his creation.
It seems that we forget that God lives outside the four walls of the church sometimes. I love our church and I don’t say that to belittle the establishment of the church itself but I think all too often we forget that God is literally everywhere and ministry is simply taking what you are passionate about and giving it back to the father. For me it has been important in this season to just let go and stop trying to figure everything out. I have to take a deep breath, walk knee deep in a swamp and giggle about how awesome and intricate each ecosystem he designed is.
He loves all of His creation, us included. He reminds me of that love constantly and I am learning more and more how to receive His love. If you really think about how perfect conditions have to be to sustain life it is almost impossible not to be awestruck by the wonder of God. There is such a complexity and variation in the design of His creation that it is hard to simply dismiss it as a cosmic accident. To me it truly shows his love and creativity and consistently encourages me to look deeper not only into His creation but also into myself. This season has really been good in the sense that the Lord is speaking to me not so much in a different way but my capacity to hear him seems to have gone deeper. It has helped me to redefine what prayer even is. I have learned that there is value both in focused prayer times where you pour out your heart to God as well as the times where you allow Him to fill it back up. I pray that I am continually able to hear God in new ways and that I allow him to not only minister through me but to me as well.