by Nancy Grisham
Late one summer afternoon I joined some other photographers to go high up in the Rockies to shoot the sunset. After a rugged drive up a one-way dirt road and short hike over a frozen snow plug, we reached the narrow ridge of the mountaintop above the tree line.
From our vantage point we could see the sun settling down into the blue layers of distant mountain peaks. It was one of the most awe-inspiring views I had ever seen. I sensed God’s presence and a level of closeness with Him that was almost unparalleled. In that moment, it would not have surprised me to hear the sky light up with the Hallelujah chorus.
As we sat in silence, I casually asked, “How could anyone not believe there is a Creator with a plan?”
With a strong edge in her voice, a fellow photographer gave a negative opinion about God in creation. She had come from a pretty rigid religious upbringing which seemed to influence her opinion of Him.
I quietly listened. When she finished, I simply commented that she had an interesting perspective. I didn’t sense that it was the time or place to go further. We just enjoyed the view and kept on photographing. However, as we’ve gotten to know each other, our conversations about God have continued.
Enjoying God in nature through photography is one of my favorite things to do. There is something about these times that can be very intimate, both with God and with people. I hope my photography friend will eventually come to know that connection too.
That connection is important because the beauty in creation shows us a snapshot of a bigger story. It has a way of opening the door of the soul to point us to God. It shows us the certainty of Someone much bigger than ourselves.
Through creation, we are all given the opportunity to choose what we seek and what or who we will worship—the created or the Creator. Still, there are those who end up worshiping the created instead of the Creator. For some people, the beauty that takes the breath away becomes the beauty that takes the heart away.
Those of us who choose the Creator know from the Bible that He works through nature to point us to Himself. However, created beauty is only the beginning. It is only part of The Story. When we experience the majesty of creation, our hearts are often instinctively moved to reverence.
It is this reverence that quiets our hearts and draws us toward the only One deserving to be revered. In these holy moments we are invited to lean into God.
Some hearts respond by crying out to know Him. Some people pull away and strain to be their own god. Maybe they pull away because of past experiences with religion, or presumed disappointments with God, or for any of the reasons that people don’t yet trust Him.
The funny thing is, a god can never be God. As He so eloquently reminded Job, and us too, we never laid the foundation of the earth. We did not enclose the ocean and tell it this far and no farther. We have never in our lives called the dawn into being.
A god did not make the mountains or tell the sun where to nestle between the peaks. However, God tenderly uses the everyday extraordinary to give us pictures of His greatness—little insights into the beauty, power, and goodness of the Magnificent One Himself.
The beauty of creation is available to every person. Every moment it shouts, “There is a God!” However, there is more, oh so much more.
He has chosen you and me to go tell the rest of The Story.
Whether it is a one-time encounter with a person or an ongoing conversation like I have with my photography friend, we can tell the rest of the story: There is a Creator. He loves you. He sent Jesus, who went to the cross and rose from the grave, so you and I can be forgiven, so we can be in relationship with Him and enjoy real life…
Whether it’s in the mountains, the city, by the ocean, or in the country, our role is to tell the rest of The Story: There is a good God who created you to love you…
I hope my photography friend comes to know and trust Him. However, as you and I are faithful in our roles, we can rest knowing that God is always faithful. He will do what only He can do—change hearts, give eternal life, and make new creations.
Nancy Grisham (@nancygrisham) is a speaker and founder of Livin’ Ignited. She is author of Thriving: Trusting God for Life to the Fullest, has frequently taught at Willow Creek Community Church mid-week classes and served as the evangelism pastor in a church of 6,500 people led by Stuart Briscoe.