God has always used his created order to unveil glimpses of himself. In Romans 1:20, we see this truth:
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
His name is Elohim and Strong Creator. It is he who beckons our hearts to be outside more during these extraordinary circumstances, to renew our bodies and minds through worshipping him in the sanctuary outside your front door.
We don’t go outside for comparison’s sake, burdened beneath a perfect standard of “quarantine righteousness.” There is lavish grace from Christ Jesus for those who prefer to stay inside as well as those who love the outdoors. At the same time, there is an open invitation for us. God longs for us to experience more of who he is through greater hours spent with him outside.
Now, the idea of that is quite simple. But the practice is a bit more challenging, especially when it involves little ones. Yet, if that’s your situation, I encourage you to view this as an investment. Helping your children see the beauty of God through nature can be foundational for their faith.
Here are a few practical tips and ideas for outdoor activites to get you started:
- Play “I Spy God Made.” Go out and name what God has made. Name a few things, then keep naming and name some more. We have the time! We cannot exhaust the list of all that he has created.
- Include a diet of both lingering hikes as well as short bursts for laps around the house or a quick check on flowers coming up around the yard.
- Plan on laundry. Plan on knee scrapes. Plan on grumbling hearts. Give grace in abundant doses.
- Keep a space near the door for all weather supplies. Toddler ice hands during a cold snap will cause major grumbling. Consistency is so much easier when hunting for boots or rain gear isn’t barrier.
- Get outside for family worship. Scripture is brimming with parables of agriculture, psalms from the sanctuary of nature, God’s demonstration of himself in what he has made. Speak these truths out loud while you’re outside together!
- Engage brains. Hunt for the Fibonacci sequence, geometry angles, and shapes. Find the five animal kingdoms, practice bounce passes to prime numbers, state capitals, multiplication tables, and scavenger hunts for textures and colors. Handheld microscopes can be purchased inexpensively.
- Head outside at different times of day for outdoor activities. My husband shuffles kids out the door in coats even before breakfast if it fits the day and weather schedule. A night walk is a similarly welcomed rhythm—flashlights and walkie talkies encouraged.
- Thank God for his timing of social distancing during spring. Search high and low for the awakening of spring. “When you see grace, say thanks,” says our own Lead Pastor Mark Vroegop. Watch for signs of new life slowly transforming and thank God for our hope in the resurrection!
- Use apps such as “Seek” by iNaturalist or “Merlin Bird” to identify species of trees, wildflowers, birds, and wildlife. Take pictures, keep ongoing nature journal of weather, dates and times of nature walks, moon cycles, and finds.
- Take uncomplicated meals outside. Turkey and cheese sandwiches on lawn chairs might fit the bill for a few minutes.
- Go out together! Many times, we send our kids outside to run off energy or so we can have a few minutes of rest and quiet. We all need that, especially during this season. When you can, invite your kids for outdoor activities with a “Let’s go out together!”
- Any location counts. When my oldest children were small, our most available outside space was behind our apartment building between two retention ponds and keeping tiny hands away from a sewer cap. We still found dried milkweed pods and thanked God for a warty toad.
He made us, he cares for us, he is the reason why taking a walk is a balm to our souls. So, let our lungs be filled with fresh air for the worship of his name. We have an invitation to experience God in greater doses because he is infinitely worthy of beholding. Let’s get outside and worship all the more in these days of crisis.