My husband and I recently returned from a 20th anniversary trip to Yosemite National Park in California, and it was amazing! I recommend a visit to both the park and the city of San Francisco to anyone who delights in beauty. Our vacation was wonderful not only because of all the things we did or the time we spent together but also for the awe-inspiring artistry of God’s creation that surrounded us. Each turn on the road and each trail on the mountain led to new, breathtakingly indescribable views of oceans, bays, mountains, waterfalls, sequoias, meadows, flowers, etc. On the way, we read a few Psalms and listened to some lessons about how God glories in His creation, all of which left me with some powerful thoughts to ponder.
All Creation Glorifies God. If you have been a member of the Lord’s church for very long, then certainly you are familiar with the hymn Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah. I remember singing this as a child and wondering how in the world birds, cows, the moon or especially dragons were supposed to praise the Lord. To my surprise, these strange lyrics came from the Lord through the Psalmist in Psalm 148. As an adult, I don’t know if I have ever taken the time to truly consider how inanimate objects or animals praise our God until this trip. The Psalmist is not here commanding the cattle or stars to shout “hallelujah”, but they glorify God by their very existence.
For thousands of years before any man, Native American or Caucasian, ever set foot in Yosemite Valley or laid eyes on Half Dome, God placed it there and enjoyed its praise. The earth and its wilderness is vast, and many areas remain uninhabited and unexplored despite man’s desire to conquer and achieve. Flowers grow in mountain peaks and clefts, the loveliness of which no man will ever see, but God sees. No man may ever know all the creatures that dwell in the depths of the oceans, but God knows each and every one. Entire galaxies exist that humans have no capabilities of viewing much less traveling to, but God’s hand has touched them all. If man will never enjoy these, then the logical conclusion is that they were not made for man but for God.
Creation is Not Above the Creator. Our nation’s parks, Yosemite in particular, were established and maintained by men like John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Sierra Club who believe that our country’s natural beauty has value and should be preserved and protected. As children of God, I believe we all have responsibilities as good stewards of the land God has given us (Genesis 1:26,28 and 2:15; Jeremiah 2:7). However, man increasingly sees protection of the land and its resources as his chief purpose in life. Men like Muir and the Sierra Club elevated nature to a place of worship and turned its preservation into their religion. The Bible warns us of this in Romans 1:25 when Paul writes, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen.” When a Christian ponders the awesome things seen in nature, it should point him or her to the One who created it (Romans 1:19-20). Our reaction ought to be to praise the Lord who made this majesty by the great power of His hand. Like the Psalmist in Psalm 104:31-34, I hope each of us takes time to truly consider His creation and say to God:
I hope each of you has an opportunity to explore and marvel in the magnificence of God’s design, whether that be at Yosemite or your own backyard. When I look at the awesome splendor of the mountains and oceans, the vegetation and landscapes, I am truly awestruck. I can understand why some men are moved to worship the amazing created thing before them rather than its unseen Creator in heaven. However, we would all do well to remember the One who first beheld earth’s grandeur. Read and meditate on Psalms 104 and 148; sit and contemplate just one of God’s astonishing creations, and glorify God as all creation is called to do!