“Can we go to that playground over there?” My daughter asked as we drove from our hotel to the entrance of Acadia National Park in Maine.
“Oh we’re going somewhere even better,” I said excitedly, “We’re going to God’s playground.”
“Wow,” the then 4-year-old asked wide-eyed, “Where’s that?”
“Nature is God’s playground,” I answered, trying to sell her on it, “There’s the beautiful mountains and rocks and ocean. And we can play on all of it.”
She thought about it, then said, “So … did God make the nice playground slides too?”
Children will forever force me to pause and re-think everything I thought I knew. I suppose my answer should’ve been yes: because God is behind the creation of all the materials and God is with the architects, manufacturers and builders. God has a hand in making every little thing. But instead, I shook my head and told her just to wait and see the beauty of God’s playground.
While my daughter has a great love for the human-made slides and swings, I had faith that once she beheld the natural glories of Mount Desert Island (where Acadia National Park resides), that she too would marvel at the God-made mountains and beaches.
Every time I get out into God’s world, whether it is a trail near our house or down the Shore (what we in New Jersey call the beach), or a national or state park, I am always overwhelmed by the majesty and grandeur of our God. With fresh air in my nostrils, sand in my toes, and a scenic view of God’s creative energy before my eyes, I want to wax poetic like the ancient Psalmist once did:
When I look up at your skies,
at what your fingers made—
the moon and the stars
that you set firmly in place—
what are human beings
that you think about them;
what are human beings
that you pay attention to them?
(Psalm 8:3-4, CEB)
In my own version of this ancient psalm, I might say, “When I look at your mountains, at what your fingers have made — The rocks that the sea moves about from place to place — What are human beings that you have given this to us? What are human beings that we can play on this holy ground?”
For this world we live in is in fact God’s playground. God has had fun creating tall mountains and deep seas. God has played about, creating silly creatures with long noses like aardvarks, with long horns like narwhals, with inquisitive minds like you and me. God’s world has steep mountainous ladders, swinging vines above forest floors and rocks that slide. God has given us a world of beauty and risk. Our Creator God has put in motion a world of constant re-creation, where the waves create new worlds and continents move millimeter by millimeter. It’s in this place of constant re-creation that we can find recreation, respite and renewal.
Yet, we don’t always stop to appreciate the “works of God’s fingers” that are all around us. Often, we need to intentionally look up from all our busyness — to hit pause on that video, to let that email go unanswered, to let the dishes sit dirty. To just sit and marvel at what our Creator God has made and given to us freely. To just go outside and play – climb that tree, slide down that sand dune, to stack that rock. To recreate in God’s playground, enjoying some fun, taking risks, learning lessons, and playing in God’s holy ground.
Just this morning, my daughter and I were talking about our trip last summer to “God’s playground” in Maine. When asked about her favorite part of the trip, she said, “I liked stacking up those big colorful rocks on the beach … but that playground near our hotel was still pretty cool.”