Walking through a Haitian forest.

The art of taking a deeper look

Noticing is a spiritual act

Fred Rogers once said that “appreciation is a spiritual thing,” and that’s an idea that has a profound impact on what we believe and how we live.

All throughout scripture, we’re encouraged to engage the world with a profound set of gratitude and wonder at the mystery of creation. When Jesus encourages us to become more like children, we are encouraged to practice humility, to be pure in heart, and to have a constant sense of amazement at the world.

One way to kindle a sense of wonder is to practice becoming deeply mindful and observant. By being expanding our views, we create more opportunities for God to speak through us in ways we might not readily expect.

This way of living is deeply counter-cultural. A culture focused on efficiency encourages us to narrow our focus, to block out distractions, and to focus only on production.

God encourages us to probe at the world’s mysteries with a sacred sense of curiosity. Proverbs reminds us that it is to the glory of God to conceal mysteries, but to the glory of human leaders to search for answers.

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We should take a deeper look at creation

Many overlook how much something as simple as a tree can point to the glory of God.

“The tree which moves some to the tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way,” says William Blake. “Some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

The processes that God designed to sustain life on Earth are so complex, layered, and interwoven that if we fully give ourselves the space to take it in, it’ll be impossible not to be moved to worship.

They also teach us things.

Fish sustain plants and trees by enriching the soil after their life through decomposition. Trees help sustain fish; when their branches and logs fall, calm pools form which turn into spawning grounds. The shade keeps water temperatures ideal and falling pollens add nutrients to the water.

Relationships like these remind us that God designed an interconnected world where everything serves a purpose.

A savings group meeting in a house in Tanzania.
A savings group meeting in a house in Tanzania.

We should also take a deeper look at human issues like poverty

It isn’t just nature where we often overlook the opportunity to discover more. It can be too easy to assume we know what there is to know about human issues. When we do, we ultimately miss the opportunity to dig deeper.

An issue like poverty, which impacts millions around the world, is undoubtedly complex. In spite of all its complexity, however, there are many who are very fast to promote overnight solutions, and many others who can explain away the causes of poverty. Often, these explanations come without having even met the poor.

If you’re going to work against poverty, you need to take the time to explore all of its root causes, all of its implications. It’s important to get the sense for what daily life looks like for a person living in those circumstances.

If you’re going to work across cultures, you need to put effort towards learning humility. You need to come with more questions than answers, blending a childlike humility with a childlike curiosity.

Ideas like these can lead us down a path that draws us closer to God through discovery. Truth is not limited to one particular area of study, or one particular way of being recorded. Instead, God enriches the Earth with mystery and wonder, allowing us to seek him out.

By encouraging participants to seek God through environmental stewardship, Plant With Purpose helps connect the journey out of poverty to spiritual renewal. This holistic approach allows us to respond to people’s biggest needs, both physical and spiritual. To learn more about how you can support our work, read about becoming a Purpose Partner.

Philippe Lazaro

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