Finding God Anew
By Fawn Musick
For twenty-one years I walked down our quarter-mile driveway and talked with God amid the sunsets fully convinced that He painted the lavish purples overlaid with streaky pinks and clear blues just for me. Certainly God created each stroke of color to perfectly match whatever I might need that very evening; the hues ranged from magnificent light pastels to the deepest dark orangey reds.
When my day went less than stellar, I could always count on a beautiful sunset to help me find a proper perspective. When my day went well, I counted on a beautiful sunset to cap it off. I used the sunsets as my barometer through raising seven kids, a bout with cancer, and graduate school. The comfort came through the consistent presence of God. His signals in the sky assured
me that He was still in charge. As long as He still generated stunning sunsets, my world would be just fine.
And then we moved—1,605 miles away from all I had ever known. I was certain that I would never find anything as amazing or as dependable as my west Texas sunsets. I had depended on those sunsets for many years. Not only was I addicted to their beauty, I also taught our kids about God through those sunsets. I would often drag the kids out of the house to look at the stunning splashes of color. Often I would call while driving home and urge them to go outside and see the glory that God created. As the children grew, they sometimes burst into the kitchen and grabbed me as I was cooking supper. They handed me the camera and pushed me out the door heading west. But now it was time to explore all of the new things God had created for us in the east.
The Bible tells us that God is omnipresent. “‘But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You’” (1 Kings 8:27). (See also Psalm 139:8 and Jeremiah 23:23, 24.) We can know God through His very presence in nature. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that
are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, KJV). I knew of the natural beauty in West Virginia and that God did indeed reside there as He does everywhere, but I did not have an established comfort zone. After moving five kids across the country, I knew I needed some time with God, but my concern surfaced as to whether I would find something as distinct and comforting as my sunsets. I soon realized how silly my thoughts had become. Our new home was perched on top of a mountain with a pond full of bluegill, trout, and goldfish. Bountiful trees, shrubs, and walking trails dominated the surroundings. More rain than I had ever seen in my life soaked the countryside, and God’s dazzling handiwork burst from every surface. All I had to do was establish a few routines, and I would be back on track with Him.
Within a few days I took to the established park trails. As I became more familiar with the treks, I noticed that I began to change. When I walked my mind opened, and I seemed to enter another world. I learned about the trees and birds. I knew which leaves padded my footsteps. My mind often wandered but reality returned when I rounded the last curve of the trail system and had to step back onto the asphalt. Not far away I crossed to the other side of the park and into the next trail system. Up, up, up. I climbed into the covered world of the trail. The sun streaked through the trees at odd angles as birds cawed and screeched at one another. A rabbit hopped across the trail, and I could hear a stream in the distance. I peered over the edge of the small bridge and saw clear water running over ancient stones. After a full day in the woods I said a quick prayer and exited the trail system to return home.
By late September all of the trails were edged in a sprinkling of spotted leaves. The tall canopy of green provided a stunning tunnel of pleasure to walk through as hints of pinky yellow-orange were dispersed along the edges. The sun filtered through some branches with diamond brightness dotting the forest floor. I paused. I raised my face and hands giving thanks to God for such a glorious day. Soon the month of October marched in cool and crisp. Breath puffs in front of my face vanished as I worked my way up the inclined trail of switchbacks. The swishing of my shoes moving through the leaves set a tempo as I continued down the other side of the hill. I was the only person on the trail, but I knew I was not alone. The sudden snapping of a branch and the skittering of a chipmunk across the trail startled me. He stopped and raised his tail as he surveyed this intruder to his world. He gave me a suspicious look and hurried up the mountain. I remained still for a moment to see if he had a partner. The animals busily chattered along and ran up the trees and through the leaves. If I remained still the activity around me increased.
As I moved up the next mountain, the leaves crunched under my feet, and sometimes the overhanging branches brushed against my arm or leg, which made me jump several times. The air hung cooler, darker, and mustier than in Texas. My aloneness magnified each noise, and my imagination created uneasy scenarios as I rounded each curve. I turned back a time or two to examine from whence I had come. I gave myself some very firm talks and managed to stay A misty view from our home on a West Virginia hill on track with my thoughts. Sometimes I sped up, but finally I forced myself to stop and look around and really listen. God was everywhere, and I was okay.
Walking the trails freed my mind to see things in different ways. I was attentive to the many leaf shapes and colors. Before long I had written an entire book in my mind about God’s unique creation. The leaves displayed a constant reminder that God is the perfect Designer of the unique. I tried to think of people I knew that fit the shape of each leaf. I began to giggle as I thought of someone as shiny and gold as an aspen leaf dangling from a branch or another as sharp and prickly as the end points of a maple leaf. I imagined us all changing colors with the seasons as the leaves do. Then I was surprised by the presence of another person on the trail walking toward me. I said “Good Morning” and realized that I had spent nearly an hour among the leaves and splendor of autumn.
As we parted and moved in opposite directions, I headed for the stream that marks the end of the trail. I startled at the heavy plunks of a black walnut hitting branches on its way down to
the forest floor while some chittering birds swooped and dipped beneath the canopy. I took a deep breath and kept walking. Up ahead a splash of brilliant sunshine peeked through the vegetation, so I aimed for that spot. I lifted my eyes and realized that while I no longer have the sunsets, I have these wonderful bright spots of sun and His light piercing their way through the trees at just about the right time each day for me to worship the Creator and bask in all His glory. I confessed that while I had to leave my cherished Texas sunsets, He continues to bless no matter where I trod as I claim His promise: “‘Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid . . . ; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you’” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Fawn Musick writes from Bluefield, West Virginia, where she continues to explore God’s wondrous creation in order to share new discoveries