Friday, March 2, 2012

Something Awesome

     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.


  1. This is so beautifully written Ben. I feel like I've had such a similar awakening to creation over the last few years, and learning so much about the peace my heart really longs for and the patience that it requires to create space for listening and abiding with God. I have been so struck by how the monastics flesh out this idea of prayerful, quite living. They structure their whole day, their work and fellowship and rest, all around their prayer - worshiping God for his creation and petitioning him on behalf of others for mercy and grace. I took a short January term class on it a few years ago and it challenged all my perceptions of monastic life (mainly that they're a bunch of sex-starved religious do-gooders who think they can earn some higher life in heaven by living some sort of higher life now.

    Instead, what I found when we studied the Rule of Benedict and when we visited a Convent for several days, was a genuine and simple faith. Men and women professing that their faith is as weak as mine, and God has called them into this community to teach them and build them up. They see their primary focus (and not apart from, but woven into their actual daily work of providing and income for the monastary/convent and daily chores)of supporting the christian body worldwide with prayer. So they wake up to pray at 3am, and they pray for those who are restless in the night, those who are ill and alone, those who are caring for children or elderly and feel ragged. They pray for peace. They stop their work during the day repeatedly to remind themselves that God goes before and behind and all they do is a simple offering. Tasks can be left undone but God cannot be left unknown.

    it still sends chills down my spine. Oh to have such faith!
    Anyway, all that to say, I'm so thankful to hear that you're finding God in the small stones and sticks, the leaves and streams of His earth. may he who is ever making all things knew reveal his beauty and grandeur to you more and more every day!

  2. Today I rode on a bus for 13 hours through God's amazing creation here in Japan. Along with many of the others in the bus, I couldn't stop taking pictures. Why do I need sixty five pictures of the same mountain? We were all trying our best to take this majesty home with us because we were in such awe of God's beauty.
    Thanks for sharing!