Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the English statesman and scientist, said God has given us two books or volumes to study: the Scriptures and the natural realm. To know God, we need both books. The bible reveals the will of God, but to understand the greatness of the God who has revealed himself in the Bible, we need to be drawn into thoughtful reflection on the infinite power of God, which is seen most clearly in His works.
Along with commands to meditate on God's words in Scripture, the Psalms invite us to ponder the works of God: I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate (Psalm 145:1-5).
In the summer of 1881, the American naturalist, John Muir spent three months exploring and mapping what is now Glacier Bay in Alaska. Muir was a Christian. He saw God's glory, power and majesty everywhere in the natural realm, and his delight in God is refreshing (his account is available in a book entitled, Travels in Alaska).
After an exhilarating day exploring a glacier, Muir wrote that he came down the mountain, "rejoicing in the possession of so blessed a day, and feeling that in very foundational truth we had been in one of God's own temples and had seen Him and heard Him working and preaching like a man." He described an unusual display of Northern Lights as "the word of God" in "majestic hieroglyphics blazoned along the sky."
When Muir explored glaciers, he saw more than massive rivers of ice. He described a glacier as a window into God's ongoing work of creation: Valleys are being carved for new rivers, basins are being hollowed out for lakes, soil that will feed new forests is being ground by the slow moving ice, and the silt that flows out to the ocean is slowly built into beautiful new mountains and landscapes that God has long planned.
To see the world this way, to know that the God who created such majesty and beauty is still at work in what we see around us should move us to doxology. Every day, God displays and declares his power and glory in the majesty of the world around us. Muir's advice to a missionary friend is advice our generation needs to hear: "Keep close to Nature's heart, yourself; and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean from the earth-stains of this sordid, gold-seeking crowd in God's pure air. It will help you in your efforts to bring to these men something better than gold. Don't lose your freedom and your love of the Earth as God made it."