We’ve been home from our wilderness retreat for over a week. While we were there I soaked up the beauty in the nature all around me. The tall green Pines and Spruce and the shimmering Aspen made me feel like I was tasting a bit of heaven. I intentionally observed the creation around me and enjoyed every second of it. But I noticed my level of irritation with my husband and kids didn’t decrease as a result of my holiday, it increased. I’ve been mulling this over. Depression has her crooked fingerprints all over my attitude of late, but there’s something else too. A reality that true beauty, real heaven, lasting peace and refreshment come not through escaping conflict and people, but through the cross.
What I mean is, the glory my soul seeks from God is not found in escaping the hard things of loving people. Nature is a good place for temporary refreshment. But people- messy, broken, sinful people- are where God’s kingdom dwells.
Jesus didn’t teach us to become one with nature. He taught us to lay down our lives for others. It’s not the path of escape that leads to God’s glory. It’s the path to the cross.
Creation’s beauty is here to speak to us of God’s manifold beauty. I should enjoy it and praise God for it, and let my observations of it roll up into worship and affection for Christ. But my soul won’t find it’s healing there.
Jesus calls us to walk through the dark valley of this life, enduring suffering, bearing our cross and following him in loving people and loving God. He calls us to believe that like him we will experience resurrection life where the fulfillment of all our longings will be satisfied in our unrestricted union with him.
I’m an introvert, but I love people. I also get tired of them. In nature I find an escape. But this vacation reminded me that God has an ultimate rest for me in Christ. And in taking up my cross, loving people and loving God- following Jesus- I’ll experience the peace a vacation and nature can never give.
Nature is beautiful, but the earth is full of people who bear the image of God. In the messy business of loving them there is a greater beauty.
‘”This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ‘