Kids and Nature

God gives His children (young and old) dominion over all nature, His perfect creation. Dominion can mean "connected to" and "compatible with." Our families can be in tune with the great outdoors.

By Caryl W. Krueger

Categories: Sports

Nowadays there's so much emphasis on indoor activities--television, electronic games, team sports held in large indoor complexes - - it seems often that the "great outdoors" isn't considered very great anymore. The description of children playing happily in the streets seems like a myth as told in Zechariah 8:5. But this doesn't have to be!

In the first chapter of Genesis, God gives His children (young and old) dominion over all nature, His perfect creation. Now dominion doesn't just mean domination. It can also mean "connected to," "in tune with," and "compatible with." So our families can be in tune with the great outdoors, all nature.

Since it would show ingratitude to ignore this important part of God's creation, is it possible to make outdoor activities as inviting and interesting as indoor ones? Let me share some ideas based on a psalm that has often been called a song of nature's beauty.It is Psalm 148, and I will share lines from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson which paraphrase it beautifully. This month, consider bringing a Bible to the dinner table and talking about this joyful psalm and how your family can better connect with nature through related activities.

Psalm 148 begins: "Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven, praise him from the mountaintops." Of course you can praise God wherever you may be, but it is a heavenly experience to do it on an actual mountain top or hill. Plan a take-along breakfast some Saturday morning and serve it while watching the sun rise. Yes, check the time of the sunrise and arrive at your destination about thirty minutes ahead! The experience of quietly sitting and watching can be awesome.

"Praise him, all you his angels, praise him, all you his warriors." Warriors as used here has several meanings, but I like the one that says it is those who fight for what is right. Attend an outdoor game, perhaps football, and afterwards discuss how the players did what was right, and sometimes even acted like angels! Or, go to a meeting of your town's city council and make the same assessment.

"Praise him, high heaven, praise him, heavenly rain clouds;... " Don't let rain keep you indoors. Dress for it, go outside and splash in the puddles, sail paper boats down the street's gutter, tip your head back and let the drops wash your face.

"Praise, oh let them praise the name of God - he spoke the word, and there they were." The spoken word can be spoken outdoors - not only in homes and churches! The spoken word is God's Word found in the Bible and also spoken directly to your heart. Take your Bible outside some afternoon and just sit and read awhile. Consider teaching a Sunday school class outdoors, under a tree.

There is more to this psalm, but near the end it suggests praise from "Robust men and women in their prime, and yes, graybeards and little children." What of nature can these groups teach us?

Robust men and women in their prime can encourage outdoor hiking, fishing, gardening, leaf raking, and even growing seeds indoors for later outside planting. And those "graybeards" and "grayheads" as well as grandparents, can share activities that involve nature: building a weather vane or birdhouse, inspecting nature close-up through a microscope, or engaging in other nature hobbies. And the "little children"? They can lead the way to a multi-generation game of hopscotch, jump rope, or spending a day on bicycles.

Yes, there is much that we can do to point ourselves to the wonders of creation. The psalm ends: "Praise all who love God!" So to show our love, let's praise ALL of His creation, not just indoor inventions and activities, but the entire range of nature from the smallest bug to the largest mountain.