Most middle-class Americans work or attend school indoors, watch TV indoors and sleep indoors. Except for walking to and from our cars, some people can go days without stepping outside. To make things worse, cold weather is coming, and it can get frightfully chilly past November. But the inherent problem with an indoor life (made worse by ever-growing house sizes) is that we miss out on a truth evidenced by nature. God is divine and all-powerful. He is the Great Creator and His creation is evidence of this.
Forever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So, they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! — Romans 1:20-21, 25 (NLT)
Love of the outdoors
The love of outdoors begins in childhood. I have pleasant memories of being outside as a child. With eight siblings and tight quarters, I naturally gravitated to places where they were not. That was outside. Away from the noise and conflict. I would walk to a place on our property far enough to not be reached by my mom’s calling. It may have only been a half-mile, but it was another world to me. A quiet rock to sit on and a cool breeze from the water beckoned when I felt overwhelmed with life. My outdoor time was a way to escape the chaos of a dysfunctional home. I did not necessarily seek it out. However, once I discovered it, I became an outdoor native and never looked back. Now I spend time outdoors to be alone with God and my thoughts, to be honest.
Freedom of the outdoors
Today my home has much less conflict than that of my childhood. My children experience nature differently than I did. They use nature as an escape from the boredom of indoor life (Oh, the problems of first-world countries). Tired of TV. Tired of board games. They even get bored with video games, given enough time. Typically, my little tribe must be prodded to go outside. But once they do their satisfaction is plain to see. They wallow around in leaves, play cops and robbers, and genuinely let their hair down. It’s like they’re free. Free from all the restraints of being indoors. They are free to run. Free to yell. Free to roll around on the ground if they please.
Benefits of the outdoors
Research shows a positive correlation between time spent in nature and a lower risk of physical and mental health issues. If being in nature is good for us, we can be certain God created it to be that way and wants us to enjoy it to the fullest. For me, it was medicine, a sweet balm that healed countless hurts. Studies also show outdoor time can increase rates of health, happiness and cognitive development in children. Being outdoors will help our children stay healthy in more ways than one. Spending time outside will engage them physically as they play. It will increase happiness as they let go and feel that sense of freedom that only the outdoors can give. The last, but most important benefit of children spending time outdoors is the boost it gives to their cognitive development in learning.
When I was a child, my emotions were raw and unregulated. The only thing I could do to escape was to leave. Alone, in my nature spot, I could let my emotions level out enough to get back on the chaos merry-go-round later. Had I not found a safe place to refresh and regroup, I think I would have had less self-control. In high school, running outdoors became my way healing, making me both mentally and physically stronger. The break it gave to my mind produced a mental well-being that got me through tough circumstances at school and home.
What spiritual benefits does time in nature provide? When we stay inside, we forget God’s greatness, as evidenced by His creation. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. — Psalm 19:1 (NIV) It is said that many a camping trip in God’s great creation has turned into an encounter with the Great Creator. It is in the outdoors we witness God’s peace — that which cannot be fully understood by man. But we feel it. We know it. We see His grandeur in the majestic purple mountains ringed with clouds. It is in the intricate design of the hummingbird that we encounter His genius and creativity. It is in nature that we learn to forge ahead, despite obstacles. We trample through fields of thistles and come out the other side victorious. We experience His endurance and are victors with Him in His creation. One thing to remember as we spend time outdoors is that God created the earth with us in mind. We are His creation too. Yet, all other creation that came before us was made for our pleasure. We get to enjoy it all. So, get out and get back into nature with your children. Until next week, be well and take advantage of this time we have been given.
Contact Cheyenne Belew at firstname.lastname@example.org.