Why Being Outside with Kids is Holy

By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. Romans 1:20 (The Message)

We swat pinecones with tree limb hockey sticks under a frigid sky.

We pick black shells out of a woodland stream. We climb apple trees intoxicating us with heavy, honey-scented fruit. We wade into a shallow tidal pool as a pod of dolphins splash just feet away. Like a watermark impressed on paper, each out of doors moment with my children is a sacred reminder of feeling God’s divine presence.

We kayak a placid river until our arms ache.

We bike trails, dig in sand pits, and explore estate gardens. We hop on petrified wood, throw a summer snowball fight, and pick forty pounds of strawberries. When we’re outside, my two squirrelly children become the people they were meant to be, the unique individuals I believe God sees them as: attentive, reverent, and exuberant.

When my children were small, we planted two blueberry bushes in our hot suburban yard. By the age of four, they could expertly pick the ripest berries (tickle it, and it falls off in your hand). Tiny eyes noticed every ripe vegetable, invading bug, miniscule snail, and budding flower. My kids learned to study the God’s world with a concentration few adults have, including myself.

Attentiveness bears the seed of quiet regard for God and His world.Tweet This

We can miss this when we’re confined within four walls of home, school, and yes, even church.

A few years ago we walked up to the Grand Canyon from our minivan. The kids griped from two days of cooped-up cross-country car riding. When we peered over the edge, the expanse carved a deep, color-filled, yet complex portrait, which I can only call transcendent. We wondered and worshiped silently.

The children climb to the tippy top of a pine tree and swing from monkey bars backward. They run, skip, and trip everywhere they go. Outside they move like the rockets they are and explore this one life with gusto, in motion and delight under big prairie sky.

Being outside together gives us balanced perspective of our smallness in light of God’s magnitude.Tweet This

Everything comes into focus in a field or by a lake: the harmony and beauty of our Creator silences our earthly busy and awakens all our senses. We get lost right in nature’s supernatural beauty. God reaches out and finds us right where we are.

I remember watching my daughter at the age of eight lying on her belly on a rocky precipice as she sketched Yellowstone Falls. No fear, only her colored pencils moving reverently across paper as she offered God her whole heart on a page. I saw her joy. I felt mine. The holy invaded. I’m still reeling from the adventure.

Discuss + Reflect

  • What is one thing you enjoy doing together as a family in the great outdoors?
  • Have you ever seen something so wonderful in nature that you felt like God made it just for you?
  • How do you feel after a beautiful day at the park, a ballgame, or a trip to the zoo? Do you think God is with you in those experiences?

Family Activity: Sacred Nature Scavenger Hunt

Go to your favorite place to explore the outdoors: backyard, park, nature center, etc. Using a camera phone, have each family member take 5 photos (or more) of something unique or amazing in nature. Share the photos together and talk about how these things show us what God is like. You may want to print the photos and make a collage to put on the fridge and title it: “Beautiful Things God Made For The (Insert Family Name)’s. Save some of the objects to decorate your home and bring God’s glory inside for everyone to enjoy.

Free Devotional Book

A kid-friendly version of this devotional appeared in a recent MOPS e-book Starry-Eyed Kids. Subscribe to my newsletter between now and Easter, and I’ll send you a free copy of the book! There’s twelve amazing devotions and even a place to record your own family adventures. 

What are you waiting for? Get outside and get your holy on!Tweet This

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March 13, 2017