Every morning as I commute to work or school, I am awestruck. Every evening when I return home, I am amazed. Despite what you may be thinking, this isn’t due the relaxing and invigorating commute I have in my 2000 Ford Focus, although I do enjoy driving what is more-or-less a hatchback golf cart at highway speeds. No, what I am referring to is something far more majestic, far more glorious, far more amazing. Pike Peak is something truly awesome.
Now, I didn’t always hold this belief. I used to look at Pikes Peak as just another mountain, just the backdrop for class pictures, and just the beginning to the much more expansive and daunting Rocky Mountains. I’m sure the first time I saw Pikes Peak I thought it was cool, but having grown up with it as not much more than a backdrop, I began to let any and all fascination with it fade away. After all, it really is nothing more than a tourist trap and field trip destination. It wasn’t until last year that I started taking notice to the beauty I am daily surrounded by.
What caused this change? A challenge. A challenge to stop separating God from his creation. A challenge to not allow the world around me to be the backdrop of my life, but to become part of my life. A challenge that seemed simple, but turned out to be dreadful.
When I would look at nature I would see rocks, trees, dirt, mountains, animals, and occasionally water. It was just stuff; stuff to be used or forgotten, enjoyed or ignored. Why should I even care? What made nature so great? I remember hearing people talk in awe about driving through the rocky mountains, how majestic and extraordinary the views were. I couldn’t comprehend how something so normal could seem so amazing. But that all changed when God came into the picture.
The challenge I mentioned above was issued by my mentor. He challenged me to keep a prayer journal throughout the week, to write down different prayer requests for myself and those around me, and then to go outside, alone and pray. Now at this point in my life, prayer was a total chore. Prayer was: something you avoided in public, something you did before you ate, something you did while you were alone, and something that still seemed foreign and pointless. Honestly, if prayer is just something you do, why even bother? So, after 3 or 4 weeks of this I told my mentor I was done. I hadn’t “felt” anything and I hated taking time out my day to go sit on some rock while it was cold and windy to recite some lines into nothingness.
My mentor then told me to go back out, but without any pre-written requests. He told me to go out for 30 minutes (I thought I would die!) and just talk to God about anything. Well it wasn’t long before I ran out of “Christian” things to talk about and had to start talking about the stuff around me. I talked about how much I hated the wind, how uncomfortable I was sitting there, and how utterly pointless I thought the whole thing was. After a while, I realized I had been there over an hour. I was no longer talking about the wind or the cold, but I was pouring my heart out to God. I didn’t care about proper form, or well-constructed sentences. All I cared about was keeping the conversation going. I didn’t want it to end.
Needless to say, I now love praying outdoors. I love being alone and away from all the distractions of life. More than that, I love being in a place that God made. Being able to touch and hear and see all of God’s creation. I love to hike or sit in the mountains and take-in how big and expansive and detailed nature is, how insignificant I am to the mountains and trees around me, and to be exposed to how everything God has provided for me. The world isn’t just the setting for humanity, it’s the place God made for us to live in and enjoy.