The Practice of Daily Wonder
… and enjoying God in the natural
By Lily Crowder
(excerpted Lily Crowder’s New Devotional Book for Mothers Get it HERE)
God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.
– Martin Luther
When my first child approached school age, my husband and I decided to home school. We made this decision for no other reason than we thought it would be a good fit for our family. We traveled a lot and liked the idea and freedom of taking school with us wherever we needed to go. At the time, homeschooling was totally foreign to me. I was eager for as much advice as possible on teaching my kids at home. One of the greatest and simplest pieces of advice I was given was this: Teach your children the love of learning, once they love to learn they are set for life. I have found this to be very true. A love of learning can open doors for all kinds of untold prospects. A love of learning, coupled with the freedom of time to explore, equals limitless possibilities!
One of my sons is Mr. Fact Man. He loves to read about facts and has an apt ability to memorize the most interesting details about the most obscure things. If you were to spend at least 30 minutes with my son, I can almost guarantee you would be informed about something you knew nothing about before the two of you met. You could learn things like: The Blue-Ringed Octopus is known as the most poisonous octopus, has a venom that can kill an adult human in minutes, and there is no known antidote! Starfish don’t have brains. Everyone’s tongue print is different. Shrimp’s hearts are in their heads. And, the Pyramid of Giza is the result of the accumulation of 2.5 million bricks!
There is something new to be learned everyday for my little sponges. Sometimes it can be awkward when my children are studying animal facts and they come across details about how the animal species mate. All parents have been there, right? Recently we were informed about the black widow that devours the male spider after they mate. My son told us about this mating ritual at dinner with friends we didn’t know so well. It was awkward.
I love watching my children learn about this world. I feel so privileged to learn alongside of them. I feel so much more enlightened because of their hunger for knowledge and their eagerness to share their new findings with me.
As we learn about our surroundings, as we open books and study facts and discoveries, everything seems to point to God. Everything! Every little detail, design and natural instinct is all so perfectly planned and purposeful. Nature is miraculous! The familiarity of it all shouldn’t negate the magic of it all. I am talking about everyday, run-of-the-mill life events here, even the stuff we get so bored with. If we choose to be present and pay attention we can learn a lot about eternity and our Creator. There is a story God is telling you in the butterfly, in the rivers and even in the macaroni and cheese you had for dinner. We can be aware, and we can encourage our children to listen. Children seem to be naturally tuned in anyway. It would be good if we could follow their lead.
Child-like: marked by innocence, trust and ingenuousness
Won-der: a cause of astonishment or admiration
Child-like wonder is something I would never like to live without. I love seeing my children get excited about something new, something they have never seen. Remember their first trip to the sea or their first Christmas? There is nothing like the excitement in a three-year-old boy when he catches his first fish. How fun to have children who are not spoiled by experience. Children are so alive! They remind us how exciting and mystical this planet is.
We grow. We get busy. New things and new discoveries become old news. Everything around us is amazing and so many of us just don’t care.
Sometimes I find myself not caring. I get comfortably numb and focused on a routine or schedule, and I forget to live. I don’t want to not care. I don’t want to get bored. I want to stay appreciative and in awe of everything around us.
I want to give my kids permission to stop everything to study the spider web on the front porch, decorated with tiny jewels from the morning rain. To stop and appreciate the spider’s busy work when I am rushing out for an errand seems so impractical in the moment, but when we take a few seconds to appreciate the little things, it makes life better. Living connected is a conscious choice.
Just the other day my son caught a fly, ripped off its head and put it under a microscope to study its eyeball. I was disgusted and very busy making dinner. But when he made me stop what I was doing for a moment to come take a look, I was fascinated at all the dimensions and parts of the fly’s eye! I am glad he was so persistent in making me pause from my cooking because now I have a new appreciation for insect eyes!
While there is a time to put away microscopes and fly heads to wash your hands for dinner, I hope most of my children’s childhood is spent with ample freedom and time to fill their healthy curiosity. I want to raise responsible, hardworking, organized and successful participants of society, but never at the expense of becoming numb and uninterested in this world and what lies beyond.
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. – George Washington Carver
The exciting thing for us as parents is that we not only get to encourage our kids and allow them time to marvel, wonder and be inquisitive about this awesome world around us. We also get to point them to a real God and Creator who designed it all.
I love visiting state parks or viewing a beautiful place with my kids in public and openly discussing how awesome God is for creating such a place. Gazing up at a redwood tree in a crowded California state park and hearing my little girl say, “Wow! God is so cool to have made such huge trees!” For as long as I am living, as long as I am a parent and when I become a grandma, I am going to take children out in nature to study tiny bugs and gaze up at huge Sequoias and storm clouds. And I am going to tell them Who imagined it all.
I love nature! There is something about nature that revives and rejuvenates me. I love being outside, especially with my children. I love putting away our computers and devices, leaving the house and all the chores behind for the day, to go and explore. I love being immersed and mesmerized by something natural, even though we may have seen a million similar trees or flowers or sunsets, there are those amazing moments when you know God is speaking to you through His creation. I can’t tell you how many times I have been out walking with the kids and something natural will happen – something will catch my eye, and in that one little thing, in that one little random moment, the Lord will speak to me so clearly. This is what our walk with Christ is supposed to be about.
The miracle of relationships
Relationships and family are the most miraculous things I can think of. To see a family and community functioning in love for one another has had more impact on my faith than anything I have ever experienced. The love between my husband and I is a miracle. My children and the love we have for each other is a miracle. The reconciliation between a severed and torn family is a miracle. I have witnessed so much deep transformation in people when they encounter God’s love. There is nothing like seeing someone shed years of resentment and bitterness. It is miraculous.
One of the primary inspirations for writing this book was the desire to awaken something inside us that values the relationships within a family. The people that make up your family and communities are so important.
Somewhere along the line of church history we forgot the constant reality of God at work among and within us. It seems in most minds that God is far from our daily existence and we are just biding our time here on earth till we can go, “to a better place.” We’ve started schools, organized conferences and written enough books to bore the most boring book worm all about striving to reach the supernatural. Which of course is great – people need to know the endless possibilities of God Almighty, but what I want to know is do we also apply as much attention to the more frequent miracles that happen every day among us? Do we discard them as “common” or “natural” things – things that are meant to be a constant source of wonder and amazement to men?” – Benjamin Dunn[i]
We sometimes have a fear if we acknowledge that everything, even the ordinary love between two people, is a miracle, than nothing will truly seem miraculous.
While I remain expectant and desire to see the Lord move in a supernatural, out-of-the-ordinary way, in healings, visions and unexplainable miracles, I am most satisfied and filled with awe when people love one another. Love is the greatest manifestation; everything else is secondary.
Remaining content in the little things is key. Receiving the greatest gift of all – Christ’s life, death and resurrection – will awaken you with the supernatural within the natural life, highlighting what is valuable and truly important: the people in your life.
There is a reason you are here on this planet, living this life in your meat sacks. Don’t wish time away. You have been created for a supernatural purpose. The Bible says, even the angels envy us (Heb. 1, 1 Peter 1:12). Getting to encounter the Gospel in our natural state is envied! Don’t miss out on now! Don’t forsake this human experience. What you are participating in right now is so important.
Once we cannot recognize Christ in natural everyday life within a community then we have missed the importance of our time here. We are eternal and this life is but a vapor, but that vapor is part of our eternity, a very wonderful, integral part.
Jesus with His skin on
My daughter, when she was about four years old, was praying and out of frustration said, “I want to see Jesus mom!”
“You can see Jesus, just close your eyes,” I said.
“No, I want to see Him with His skin on!”
We were meant to experience Jesus with His skin on. To crave something real and tangible, to connect with our faith, is a healthy desire. I don’t want a figurative, elusive Jesus in the sky. I want what my daughter was bold enough to ask for: Jesus with His skin on. I want to touch, taste, smell and see Him every day! I want to see Him in my husband, in my children, in the community I live in. I want to see him in the messy, dirty matter that we come in contact with every day. His Spirit was sent to fill the earth, and He came to live within. We have become “Jesus with His skin on.”
… as He is, so also are we in this world (1 John 4:17).
I am so thankful Jesus came to us, fully God and fully man. For good reason He didn’t leave out that flesh part when he humbly came as a man for all men in the incarnation. He gazed at the same stars. He felt thirst and hunger and fatigue. He experienced the monotony of a chore. He put his hands in the dirt and saw the seasons change. He experienced a mother’s love and a friend’s rejection. To think of our Lord with His skin on, coming in flesh and dying in flesh, awakens me to the Glory meant to be found in our world and our everyday lives.
As you go, preach this message: “The Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 10:7).
When I encounter God and His glory in the natural, I get to catch a glimpse of Heaven. Heaven is near. When I am looking to see God in everything, I find the balance I crave. It’s not a balance that craves a little spirituality and a little something natural, but a balance that finds that the two are intertwined. In the same way that Christ was fully man and fully God, our life is meant to be fully natural and fully supernatural all at the same time. We do not seek out Heaven apart from earth at the same time; we watch the two collide. How beautiful to see the spirituality in the simple and ordinary. When we realize that what we are doing now is part of the whole of eternity, then time takes on a completely different meaning.
[i] Benjamin Dunn, Lamb, Wine and a Divine Comedy (Santa Cruz, CA: Joy Revolution, 2012), 57.
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Lily Crowder, 5/4/2016