At the beginning of the year, I drill my kids with one lesson: God Loves You Infinitely. I use all angles and examples to teach this. Look at yourself, how perfectly He designed you from your eyelashes to your toes, because He did it out of love. Explore nature, the sun, the water, the animals – everything expresses His love for you. I do this every year at the beginning of the year, so my children can start the year full of His love.
This year, I unexpectedly received this lesson in a way that I had never experienced it before.
My eldest children are now tweens. While until now, simple walks in the park have sufficed to find examples of God’s love in nature, I realized, they are ready for more first-hand encounters. So, I determined to take the plunge and invest in my children’s outdoor education. My hope was that up-close-and-personal time in nature would nurture their relationship with God.
Their first excursion was a day-hike in snowshoes. The prep list was long and a little intimidating. If you’re like us and have gone to large outdoor retail stores like REI or Cabella’s, you know it takes some resolve to go in. It was the same with me. Little did I know that my trip to the stores would be a profound encounter with God’s love.
As I explored the racks, trying to tick off items from the list, I came across Frogg Togg amphibian overalls. It hit me: I was surrounded by God’s creation harnessed by human ingenuity. Someone must have been inspired by a frog swimming in the water and created these waterproof overalls that allowed fishermen to walk in and out of the waters.
I continued on, in wonder. On the list, in bold letters, was a note, DO NOT WEAR COTTON, WEAR WOOL. Wool doesn’t stay wet like cotton, it also wicks moisture, and keeps heat in. Wow! Somewhere in human history, people realized that sheep kept warm and dry in the cold with wool and that the wool could be harvested, and woven into the fabric, that could make sweaters, socks, gloves, and hats to keep humans warm and dry in cold climates.
I moved on to canteens and water dispensers. They sell Camelbaks, silicone bladders for your backpack, that has a built-in water dispensing tube. Someone was inspired by the camel’s fatty hump that stores nutrients for long desert trips and created the water carrying system. My tween kids chide my wonder by informing me that camels do not store water in their humps, nevertheless, there is some correlation.
I had to hunt for things called gaiters, waterproof guards to prevent water and snow from getting in from the top of boots. Again, a bit of a stretch, but somehow someone must have been inspired by the waterproof skin of alligators to make the gaiters protect the boots.
And last, snowshoes. The names don’t make a direct connection to an animal, but today I found out from an article that the snowshoe itself came from observing the Mountain Hares and the Eurasian Lynx float over the deep snow with their large feet. And so the inventors developed these wide feet for humans to distribute our weight across a wide surface area so we could cross through deep snow without falling in.
As I collected the items that would protect my children from the elements of nature high up in the snowy mountains, I felt God’s love so deeply. Each item was a combination of God’s wisdom and human creativity, and they will protect my children and allow them to enjoy God’s creation.
Oh God of Creation. The wonders never cease to amaze me and fill me with such deep awe and reverence to Him. We are surrounded by a wonderful world, with love at its core. God loves us infinitely. And that we could live in the midst of all that wonder made from love and our God-given creativity to observe nature and adapt those features for survival, travel, and sustenance so we could thrive and enjoy nature.