Change of scenery

Photos were flashing up on the screen one by one, timed beautifully with the accompanying song. Each picture depicted fun and rugged scenes of boys camping, fishing, swimming, building fires, tying knots. It was Cadet Sunday and our church was hosting several of the Southern B.C. boy’s club cadres for a service to highlight the exciting events and ministry over the past year.

A few moments into the PowerPoint presentation I couldn’t help but notice a common theme. While our attention was meant to be focused on the skillful axe swing, the “big catch” and the smiling faces of the boys and men who were “Living for Jesus,” my eyes were drawn to the breathtaking panoramic background in every photo – the huge, towering blue mountains that frame the view from every angle in this part of the country. The massive white-capped blue rock, complete with ribbons of waterfalls, created the colour scheme for each and every photo, regardless of what else was in the picture.

Having recently moved back to B.C. from our former home on the “mountain” in Hamilton, Ontario, my jaw still regularly drops in wonder at the sheer majestic beauty of the Cascade and Coast mountains in the Fraser Valley. But a quick look around me confirmed that other people did not seem to notice these beautiful backdrops. I’m sure that the photographers themselves did not even intend to take pictures of the mountains – they were just unavoidable, if beautiful, backgrounds.

Back in the valley
As a believer who was born and raised in the Christian faith, I have sometimes longed for the experience of being a new Christian – seeing the greatness of God, being awed by his majesty and humbled by his grace for the first time. It must surely be a little like the wonder of seeing mountains for the first time, or even for a first time again. Even as devout believers, it can be easy to stop paying attention to the breathtaking wonder of our always-present God – easier, perhaps, to focus on ourselves and our own actions, well-meaning as they may be. Sure, sometimes we spend time in the mountains, and have exhilarating mountain-top experiences, but when we are back in the valley, they become part of the landscape again, often obscured by man-made structures, or ignored as we keep our eyes on the road and our fingers on the texting keys. Numerous studies have come to startling conclusions about the correlation between our physical and mental health and spending time in nature. Does knowing this change anything? The same holds true for our spiritual health.

Just like the mountains and other spectacular views of nature, God’s bigger picture is the constant backdrop of our lives. His presence sets our colour-scheme and frames our every view, whether we choose to notice and delight in him or not. A change of scenery can help re-instill a sense of awe, refocus our lenses and allow us to appreciate the enormity of his power in this world.

Refocus the lens
The season of Lent begins on February 23 this year. For many people, myself included, this involves giving something up for the 40 days leading up to Easter – chocolate, TV, Facebook – whatever will be helpful as a daily reminder of the infinitely greater sacrifice that God made for us. While some may call this trendy or gimmicky, or even unnecessary in light of God’s grace that no longer requires physical sacrifice, maybe it could be the very thing that “changes our scenery” and draws our focus back to the bigger picture of God’s amazing story. Perhaps this practice of a temporary daily discipline can be the nudge we need to remember to look up in awe – up to the God who gave it all for us.

  • Monica Kronemeyer deRegt joined the Christian Courier editorial team in January 2015. She recently moved from Ontario to Abbotsford, B.C., with her husband and three children. From a very young age, Monica has been drawn to the written word, both as a form of expression but also as a conduit for ministry. She believes that everyone has a story to tell, and that God’s story is shared through our stories. Monica grew up in northern B.C. and graduated from The King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta. In addition to writing and editing, Monica loves reading (especially out loud to her children every night!), cooking, learning, singing, and exploring new places with her family, although she is known to be left behind reading every single plaque and trail marker and information poster along the way! Monica invites readers to contact her with ideas for the Features pages, and looks forward to exploring together with the Christian Courier community what it means to follow Christ in every part of the story of our lives.

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