My own love for camping and hiking—especially in national parks—was cemented when I lived in Kings Canyon National Park in California for two summers during my college years. Having the Sierra Nevada as my playground made my hours at a humble summer job worth it. I logged hundreds of miles hiked and thousands of feet climbed in my attempt to take in the features of the park: starry nights, mountain vistas, alpine lakes, surging rivers, giant sequoias, flowering meadows, and the many animal species. The beauty and vastness of God’s creation never failed to delight me in every journey I took. I wanted to see everything. I still do! No matter our personal approach to the outdoors, it is likely that, at some time or another, each of us has been awed by its wonders and moved to offer words of praise and thanksgiving to its Creator.
Different experiences can spark our thoughts about God as our Creator. With all the tools we have for looking into outer space, we may lose our breath not only because of the beauty but also due to how vast all the distances are, the sheer size and number of objects, and the mind-blowing forces at work in the universe. These considerations may lead us to reflect about the God who could create on such a massive scale. Perhaps we may equally marvel at the smallest details we can observe. Whether we are investigating subatomic particles or the smallest structures of our world, there is astounding complexity in the tiniest of features. It is humbling to think of our Creator taking such thoughtful care of the little details.
Beyond the big and small, any number of pleasures from all our senses and experiences of life could lead us to delight in God’s masterful artistry and generosity. It is easy to be thankful to God for the beauty and many joys of creation. God’s reliability may comfort us as we live year by year through the cycle of seasons or as we note the regularity of physical properties in the world. And ever-new delights, never exactly like before, may lead us to celebrate the unfolding journey of God with the world. So many things may lead us toward thinking about the character of our Creator and toward worship.
It is a privilege to have these times of reflection and worship—these moments that halt our labor. It is especially a privilege if we have extended time to reflect. Yet few people around the world have the luxury of time and stockpiled resources that would allow them to sit and contemplate anything that does not have to do with meeting basic needs or pressing concerns. As we address the demands of our days, it is possible to be struck with amazement at a glimpse of a sunset, the smell of rain, a singing bird, the taste of honey, or the tickle of snowflakes on our faces. Yet, most often, the more urgent issues of life get our attention. Moments to reflect, to indulge our curiosity, or to delight in God are not necessarily what dominate our days. Sweet moments are a blessing beyond our daily needs.
There are, however, life experiences that may make our reflections about our Creator more urgent and all-consuming. Crisis moments leave little room for savoring and delighting. It is difficult, in a crisis, to think beyond the intensity of the moment. Our thoughts and prayers during crises are less a pastime or luxury than critical cries for deliverance. These cries hold in them the weight of our lives and futures. So much more is at stake about who God is when we are being crushed. It is not a matter of curiosity who God is; it is a matter of salvation. While we may at first think the doctrine of creation belongs to moments of peaceful reflection—as a surplus doctrine for a surplus time—its real home is in the high-stakes times of crisis. Instead of speculative thoughts about God, God’s identity matters most at those critical points, when who God really is matters right now.
Creation is the latest volume available in The Wesleyan Theology Series. This series aims to discuss Christian doctrines in accessible language that states clearly what Christians believe and why. Each volume is written by an author with a particular expertise who also has the ability to simplify and clarify complex ideas.
This 12-book series includes topics on the Trinity, creation, eschatology, the church, the sacraments, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Scripture, sin, grace, salvation, sanctification, Christian ethics, and atonement.
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