I deeply love nature. Maybe that’s a silly statement, but for me it’s a pretty big change from who I used to be. I remember cringing when my parents would drag my brother and I on camping trips when I was a kid. I was not impressed with the so-called great outdoors. All I saw there was what it lacked, namely air conditioning, electricity, and my comfortable bed. We made some good memories on these trips (my mom and I once got trapped on top of a picnic table by what seemed to be the world’s most aggressive and threatening racoon), but I was always desperate to get back home.
A few years ago, I was having a bit of a spiritual and emotional crisis, and I did something I’d never once done in my life. I decided to go for a hike. I can’t tell you why I made that decision or what even put the idea in my head, but out I went. I turned on the album Simple Gospel by United Pursuit and headed out into the wilderness. Within about 90 seconds my eyes were filled with tears and my spirit was absolutely overwhelmed by the nearness of God. He spoke to me in that moment and said “I’m calling you out”, and it was a phrase that had multiple meanings, one of which meant that He was literally calling me to spend more time in nature. I will forever cherish the moments God and I shared on that hike, and to this day I find some of my deepest and most meaningful moments with God come when I’m in nature.
Nature is God’s creation. This house I’m currently sitting in is not. This is man’s creation. I was out with a friend of mine recently and we went on an impromptu adventure, finding a creek and following it deeper and deeper into the woods. I was overcome with emotion out there. I turned to my friend and said “God made this.” Nature is His handiwork, and I think it’s obvious to anyone who spends time in nature that it’s so much easier away from the distractions that man has created for himself to really connect with God.
Why am I writing an essay about nature here? Good question. The Bible frequently uses nature as an example and a point of reference. We talked about fig trees a few weeks ago, and I’ve even found that studying and understanding ancient agriculture techniques helps gives you a deeper understanding of the Bible. Nature is important, and understanding it is important because God’s word uses it a lot to help make connections between spiritual issues and natural ones. It’s a decoder that can help us better understand the Bible.
So, yes, we’re still studying the book of Luke, this didn’t turn into a hiking blog. We’re still in chapter 7, and Jesus just got done talking to two disciples of John the Baptist.
Luke 7:24 After John’s disciples left, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind?
Do you ever read something in the Bible and just feel like it was aimed right at you? When I read the phrase “was he a weak reed” I had flashbacks to an adult life that I spent expertly straddling the fence on just about every issue imaginable. Before I recommitted my life to Jesus in 2015, I prided myself on never coming into conflict with anyone, and most every person I walked away from conversing with was convinced that I firmly agreed with whatever point of view they’d just presented on whatever subject. I deceived myself into thinking this was some sort of a kindness, a way to not upset people. The truth of it is far less noble. I was a weak reed. Too weak to stand up to anyone, blown whatever direction they wished to send me.
James 1:8 refers to a double minded man as “unstable in all of his ways.” The fact is, I wasn’t always lying. I feared conflict so badly that I’d detached myself from all strong opinions. Because then I wasn’t a liar, I was just unattached, holding to nothing so that I can try to please everyone I talk to. It’s no wonder that my life was so unfulfilling. I was a man without a purpose, with nothing dear enough worth holding onto tightly.
This is an era when it’s never been more important to be more than a weak reed. If you want to stand for Jesus, you’re going to have to be ready to stand in the face of storms. Persecution, ridicule, and depending on what part of the world you’re in, possibly death. Few outside of the faith respect a person of true faith anymore. It’s viewed as a sign of deep ignorance by most people, and there are many who will come to try to show you why you’re such a fool and why you’ve been deceived by churches and preachers. Weak reeds will bend beneath the wind such interactions bring.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
The truth of God is evergreen, tall and mighty, unmoved by the wind. A mighty tree is a source of shade for those in need, it’s a tall beacon that is unmistakable, especially in a world of reeds. The tree in the scripture above is vital and alive, producing fruit for people to eat regardless of any tough seasons that may be going on at the time. It can shield and feed a multitude, while a weak reed can do little but get blown about, over and over again. As we look at the Bible using these fantastic nature references, I know which one of these two examples I want to be. One can be of service and assistance to many, while the other is purposeless. I don’t know about any of you, but I’ve spent more than enough time being purposeless.
One thing to add here. Just because I’m no longer a weak reed doesn’t mean now I’m pumped up and ready to argue or have confrontations with people. As a matter of fact, doing so would be unbiblical.
2 Timothy 2:23-25 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.
I have no more desire to have confrontations with people now than I did before. The only difference is that now I am rooted in truth and purpose. Now I live for something that’s worth defending, discussing, and vocalizing, but just as the Bible instructs, I strive to only do so in a manner that is gentle and kind. If you run into a believer who’s doing otherwise, then they need to revisit the heart of the scriptures that they’re arguing over.
I love all of you. I’m going to be traveling for work this week so my post times might be a little strange, but the blogs will be here! God’s so good to us. My worst day as a servant of God is still better than my best day when I was walking without Him.
If you have any prayer requests or things you’d like to discuss, my email is always open to you at firstname.lastname@example.org