I love gardening. God has been teaching me dozens of lessons as I dig in the dirt planting tiny seeds, carefully protecting them from weedy invaders, and patiently watering them. For me, connecting with God through nature comes naturally and I want it to for my kids as well.
However, in our busy, fast-paced world. I find we sometimes need to make an effort to get into nature and enjoy God’s creation. There are many lessons awaiting us!
The Importance of Teaching Our Kids to Connect with God Through Nature
Nature is all around us, am I right? We were created with senses that relate to it. We feel the sunshine, the wind, and the prickles of a cactus.
We can hear the birds chirping and the rain pattering on the roof. We can see the vibrant colors of flowers, sunsets, butterflies, and the intricate designs of snowflakes and spider webs.
The smell of a skunk or the scent of freshly mowed grass awakens our brains as well as the taste of a sour lemon or sweet bite of fresh watermelon.
All of these things were created by God. Every last one of them. By exploring such wonderous gifts we’ve been given teaches our kids to connect with God through nature.
What Nature Reveals About God
What does nature reveal about God? I love this quote by James Prescott Joule, a brilliant scientist.
“After the knowledge of, and obedience to, the will of God, the next aim must be to know something of His attributes of wisdom, power, and goodness as evidenced by His handiwork. It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less that an acquaintanceship with the mind of God therein expressed”
Nature reveals the character of God. Our mission in teaching our children about nature and the world around us should be influenced by our desire to teach them about who God is.
God is Good
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)
Creation teaches us that God is good. Everything He made is perfect. From the very elements that make up our world to the super giant stars we see in the night sky, we can see God’s handiwork.
The delicate process that make up our bodies in which everything must work together in exact harmony points to one greater than us.
When we look at the intricate details of a snowflake or the strength of a snowcapped mountain, we can find comfort in the fact that God is good. His creation is good and He works all things for our good.
Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men! (Psalm 31:19)
The Character of God
We see the character of God in His creation.
We can see patience as we wait for a seed to grow, develop into a plant and bear fruit.
The joy of the Lord is revealed as we listen to the birds sing or fill our yards with beautiful flowers.
By connecting with God through nature we can find His strength and steadiness in the rocky mountains.
His omnipotence is seen in the forces of weather and the depths of the sea.
The love of God is seen as He cares for the tiny sparrow as well as the giant sequoias. His love is witnessed by us as we see how He provided for our every need.
God had good reason to say that the earth was good because, as we can see, it truly is.
How Do We Appreciate God’s Creation
One way of showing how we appreciate God’s creation is teaching our kids to appreciate it as well. Long walks as you point out insects, fungi, and shapes in the clouds lead our children to understand that the world around them is important to them and it is ok to slow down and experience it.
Did you catch that part mamas? Allow your children to slow down and experience nature. This might mean watching your son skip rocks on the pond for an hour straight or mustering your courage and picking up the grass snake that found its way into your yard.
We learn about it
Finding God in nature comes when we learn about it. Whether you live in a city, on a farm, or somewhere in between connecting with God through nature will never disappoint.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Build a birdfeeder (or buy one!) You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly our friends find your feeder. Before long you will be reminding your children of the Bible verses in which Jesus tells us our Heavenly Father cares for the sparrow.
- Plant a garden I love gardening. For me, there is a beautiful mystery behind it. You till the ground and plant tiny seeds. Patiently you water and before long your hope is fulfilled and seedlings pop their tiny heads through the soil. Removing the weeds, fertilizing, watering, and caring for your garden produces food that brings pride to all the young ones who helped. It teaches God’s characteristics of patience and joy. You might want to check out Rosevine Cottage Girls. They have wonderful gardening posts!
- Plant flowers The beauty of the flowers alone are enough to make you want to plant, but when you get into the specific details of how a plant grows from a tiny seed to a beautiful flower, pollinates and produces its own seeds.
- Plant a butterfly garden Just like I just mentioned, you can see the beauty of God and His amazing ability to make a perfect world when you see the harmony between flowers and butterflies. The same goes for the honeybees. Watching the insects dig down into the flowers sucking up the sticky nectar and spreading pollen from one flower to the next speaks of a master creator.
- Keep a nature journal The best way to connect with God through nature is by allowing your children to explore it. Nature journals can be used for quiet time activities as your child draws and/or writes about what he sees, hears, smells, and feels. Taking photos is another way to encourage looking at details.
- Take care of the hummingbirds These little creatures are simply amazing. Buy a hummingbird feeder or plant flowers that attract them.
- Consider the ants We don’t consider the insects very often but they are fascinating. Thousands of different species. On our trip to FL a couple of years ago my oldest son put a dead June beetle into a fire ants nest. He still talks about the way they immediately devoured that juicy bug and left the shell.
- Don’t forget the Fungi Fungi grow in the oddest places and produces some of the coolest designs in nature. Reproducing by spores is no easy feat either. Take a walk through the woods and find fungi growing in damp places or on dead trees. Purchasing a mushroom log kit might interest young minds as well.
- Leaf rubbings My 8-year-old loves this. Basically, you just take a leaf and put it under a piece of white printer paper. Remove the paper from a crayon and using the side of the crayon, gently rub the paper. The outline of the leaf will appear 🙂
- Press flowers This was one of my favorite pastimes when my family moved to the country. I pressed them in books, dried them in salt, and hung them in my closet. I did everything I could to preserve the beauty. Check out How to Press Flowers by Proflowers to get you and your child started!
- A good science textbook I love Apologia science because it constantly points back to God as we learn about science and all the many fields it embraces. When we are teaching our children about the important workings of our universe, we should always be pointing to the one who created it. Check out these posts to see why I love Apologia! Botany and In the Beginning Science.
- Nature science experiments What better way of connecting to God through nature than by experimenting with it, right?! Plus it’s fun! Check out these posts to get you started! Outdoor Educational Activities and Simple Fall Science Experiments.
- Head for the woods Or field, mountains, or lake 😉 If you live in the city, check out where the nearest national, state, or county park is. For most of us it is not a terribly long drive. Plan a day to romp around with your kids, pointing out what is exciting and show your family how to connect with God in nature.
- Camping Camping is hands down our favorite summertime activity. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to unplug, unwind, and enjoy each other’s company as well as connect with God through nature.
- Zoos I know this is kind of a no brainer, but don’t overlook the opportunities you have to point out God while walking through a zoo. God did not make just one animal, he made over a million! Doesn’t this show God’s power and creativity?
- Aquariums Aquariums are also a lot of fun. We get a unique opportunity to explore the world of oceans, lakes, and seas. Again, God made such a variety of sea creatures. From the eight-legged octopus to the ginormous blue whale to the tiny creatures living on the ocean floor, we see the awesomeness of God.
- Hit the beach Whether you are near an ocean, lake, or river, you will find that the beach is a totally different ecosystem than the one in your backyard. Hunt for crabs, skip rocks, dig your feet into the sand. Teach your kids to relax, slow down, and connect with God.
- Night watch You can feel the Psalmist’s amazement when he penned “The heavens declare the glory of God, And the firmament shows his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1) Have a bonfire and watch the stars slowly appear. Point out the planets and the constellations. Nasa has some great websites for learning about the night sky.
- Turn over rocks My kids drive me nuts because they regularly overturn my landscaping pavers. They are hunting for the tiny insects that reside under them. Truthfully, I am a little annoyed that they destroy my landscaping for a handful of slimy creepy crawlers, but they love it. Connecting with God through nature might be a little inconvenient at times 😉
We Take Care of It
Now that we have lots of ideas for how to appreciate God’s creation through exploring it, let’s talk about our responsibility to take care of it. I think that children will automatically see the connection between God creating this beautiful world for us and how we need to love it.
God gave Adam and Eve specific instructions and those still stand for us today.
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
Man was given a responsibilty to care for the earth. So my last two suggestions for teaching our kids to connect with God through nature have to do with taking care of what God has given us.
- Treating animals kindly I have found my sons pulling the legs off of a spider or cutting worms in half. Now, they would not likely be cruel to dog or a cat, but insects are still God’s creation and starting small leads to important tasks such as feeding and watering pets and keeping their needs in mind. I am not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination but I do feel that often animals are killed for sport or are raised and kept in an atmosphere not at all intended by God. Teaching our children to respect and treat animals kindly teaches them to respect God as well.
- Take care of God’s creation Simple lessons go a long way. Not littering, being conscious to recycle, not to be wasteful with our natural resources, planting trees, taking care of the birds through the winter, I could go on and on. Teaching our kids that it is our responsibility to take care of the earth God gave us, once again points them to God.
Connecting with God Through Nature and the Psalms
I know that was a pretty long list! I hope you find it helpful. I want to end with a few Psalms because they are beautiful in their acknowledgement of God and this is how I want my kids to feel! Connecting with God through nature and the Psalms. Totally a win win 🙂
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
The Psalmist asks why such an awesome God capable of creation would have anything to do with him. I am eternally thankful He does!
“Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.”
“He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind,” Psalm 104:2-3
Seriously, don’t you just love the figurative language here?
While this post was geared toward kids, Kingdom Bloggers has one more for us moms. Check it out! The Beauty of Creation: Seeing God through Nature