At the start of the New Year, the pastor at my church started a new book of the Bible. He said we would be going way back in the New Testament, and he wasn't lying, we went all the way back to the beginning; the book of Genesis.
Being in the book of Genesis reminded me that everything that we have in this world, everything that we enjoy, (like flowers and sunsets and cute puppies), and even things that we don't enjoy (like weeds, roaches, and freezing rain), were created by God.
The pastor urged us at the end of the sermon to go out into the world and pay attention to all the wonders of God's creation.
That particular Sunday, as I left the church, a heavy snow was falling. This was the first time I was going to get to see snow on the beach! I quickly headed out after the service with my friend Gabby, and we ran to the boardwalk to see the beach covered over. We watched in awe at the way the waves came in and the way the sand looked completely buried under the fresh snowfall. We marveled at the little footprints left behind by a few brave seagulls who seems nonplussed by the storm, and we took note of each individual snowflake as it fell on our cold, wet noses.
Later, after an afternoon of fun and fellowship, as I was driving Gabby home, we were in awe over the trees lining the sides of the highway. They were snow-covered and beautiful to behold. We watched as each branch swayed delicately in the breeze, painted with snow and with just a hint of ice at the end of each branch shimmering under the sunlight.
I spent the entire day awestruck over the beauty all around. Living at the beach, I find myself always admiring and appreciating God's handiwork. I never tire of watching the sun burst forth in glory each morning over the ocean, or tire of seeing that same glorious sun seemingly slip down into the water at the end of the evening. I never tire of feeling the sun on my face, or the sand between my toes, understanding that God has placed every last grain of that sand right where I happen to be standing.
But this particular Sunday, consciously paying attention to the beauty around me, and intentionally thanking God for creating it all, left me with a sense of awe that followed me throughout that day, and honestly, every other day since then.
An unusual and wonderful thing happened this week on the first day of February; the weather was warm and sunny. I mean, open-the-windows-and-let-the-fresh-air-in warm. I laced up my running shoes and headed to the beach for a quick five-miler to enjoy the air and get some much-needed exercise.
As I smelled the salt air and felt the sun on my skin, and as I listened to the seagulls flying above, watching their outstretched wings carrying them to their next destination, I remembered again the amazing way that God not only created, but sustains the world we live in.
I think of the miracle of the sun and the moon and remember that God placed each and every star in the sky. I am in awe of the change of seasons, the variety of plants and flowers that cover the earth, and the variety of creatures that fly, walk, hop, and swim alongside us. The creationists can believe that the earth just boomed into existence, but I find it hard to believe that such beauty just exploded into being. The world is just too beautiful to have just come about by happenstance.
So going back to that snowy Sunday, I walked around having a completely awe-filled and "awefull" day. I took in the sights, smells, and sounds that God created and actually stopped to take the time to appreciate all the things that are a part of my world every day; things that I sometimes pass right by without a second thought.
Next time you step out your front door, take a moment to look around and absorb and appreciate everything surrounding you. And while you're at it, take a moment to think about and thank the One who put it all there.