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Fasting Challenge # 6-Get into nature

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. Running, going on walks, laying in the sun, camping, playing yard games, bonfires, concerts, sporting events, and grill outs. Everything just seems more enjoyable outside. Even if you’ve done zero research on the benefits of being outside, you just know it’s good for you. It’s why everyone gets excited when you can FINALLY roll down the windows in the car or open them up in your home. That fresh air, the sunshine, the smell of rain, it just does something good.

But, let’s talk about the research. Studies have shown that being outside in nature is relaxing, reducing our stress, cortisol levels, muscle tension and heart rates. They also have shown that being in nature can restore and strengthen our mental capacities, increasing focus and attention. [1] That alone seems like a good reason to opt to enjoy your morning coffee or lunch break outside. But, did you also know that the average American child only spends about 4 to 7 minutes a day playing outside? [2] This surprised me. That’s basically just a walk to and from the car to go inside. Is that really all the time we’re spending outside when it’s something we know is good for us?!

When I found out that one of our Lent fasting challenges was going to be to “get outside more,” more specifically to spend 20 minutes outside for 3-5 days, I was eager to write about this. Before the year even began I was feeling challenged to spend more time outside and do you know what I’ve found? I play with my kids more. We spend more time as a family doing something together, rather than a bunch of separate tasks or phone scrolling inside. Being outside has brought us more quality time together. I’m in awe of God more when I take time to be outside and watch as nature seemingly does its thing. Our conversations about nature and how God created each intricate detail evolve into beautiful conversations and an awe of our Creator.

Nature is one of God's most beautiful creations. Through nature God is able to teach us, speak to us, and provide for us.

Job 12:7-10

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;

the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;

or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;

and the fish of the sea will declare to you.

Who among all these does not know

that the hand of the Lord has done this?

In his hand is the life of every living thing

and the breath of all mankind.

So, why would we not want to spend time in a place that proclaims God’s glory all around us? Do you see how that could shift your mindset and perspective? Romans 1:20 tells us that through nature we can know that God exists.

Romans 1:20, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Our fasting challenge this week is to spend 20 minutes outside for 3-5 days. Drink your morning coffee outside. Take your quiet time or scripture reading to the front porch. Go on an evening walk as a family. Find a new park or trail to explore. Have a picnic. Invite friends over for a fire or yard games. Find a place to sit and enjoy the sunshine. God’s glory is all around us, see Him when you step outside this week!

Revelation 4:11

Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.

Written by Lori Mortensen

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