Nature Reaching and Preaching

Stepping outside before daylight a couple days ago an eerie feeling came over me. I couldn’t place it until later in the day. I stood beside the lake and it was completely froze over. Silence. All was quiet. The last two weeks the lake was full of very noisy swans, geese, ducks and some cranes getting ready to head south for the winter.

I would have liked to be there when the winds died down. I imagine the waters were super cooled but couldn’t freeze until a certain degree of calm suddenly came. The lake probably froze over in a matter of seconds when that happened(sometimes lake freeze this way). All the birds had to quickly take off and head south or someplace else suddenly. I may have even heard the commotion in the middle of the night as the lake is only a few hundred yards away. I had heard lots of commotions in the middle of the night lately so I thought nothing of it.

The parallels of our present age are downright scary. It’s winter, freezing cold and going to get colder in many ways. Life is in the stormy winter season for many people.

I would like to share some of the beauty that cold weather can bring, even when the sun has not made an appearance in the last 10 days. It’s been a build up of continuous light snow for several days. Even the grayest of days has it’s beauty. The sunsets were just before the storms.

My thoughts as I took all these pictures. Not one tree or plant, wild animal or bird escaped the storm. They all experienced the 40 mph winds with driving rain turning to ice and then several days of snow.

We all affect each other don’t we. I pray we help one another through the storms of life rather than being a storm in others lives. That’s God’s kind of love for us and should be in us for each other. Let this picture illustrate.

This tree was broken and badly bent over. It still grew and is living. It’s life source like other trees is a good root system holding fast but the real source is the sun. This tree is growing most of it’s branches straight up. Each branch is like it’s own tree growing straight up, reaching for the sun. In return the branches are keeping the tree alive and thriving. Nature preaching in tree form.

When I pray for others, I most often pray they will know and experience Jesus. The Son. The one who will not leave us in the storm. The one who makes beauty out of ugly times. The one who gives life from death. The one who didn’t stay dead and gives life. The one worth dying for and thus worth living for. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”. 1 John 5:12

Gary

Header photo taken out the window of our fireplace room. A fun view of our back yard

Published by Gary Fultz

Outdoors Man, Hunter, Fisherman, Guide, Writer / Author, Photographer, Public Speaker, Musician, Song Writer, Story Teller, Follower Of Jesus. Love God and family and total strangers

75 thoughts on “Nature Reaching and Preaching

  1. Beautiful photos that bring back memories of 40 years working outdoors through all kind of weather. I recall trimming trees by a frozen lake and hearing the sound like a shotgun of the ice working out its differences along the seams. The foreman brought along his huskie to keep us company, and while we worked topside, he trotted out onto the ice, curled up and took a nap! Yes, God speaks in those wild and severe moments in Winter. Thank you for bringing it back to me.

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  2. We finally got some snow that stuck and I can see its beauty in the streetlight. I’m looking forward to taking a few pictures as well, but I always enjoy your creative captures of God’s amazing handiwork. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Brother Gary, “Nature preaching” is a gift you obviously have and I love it. This statement, “I pray we help one another through the storms of life rather than being a storm in others lives.” is a reality that all of us are called to do and I immediately thought of a recent incident where I could have done much better. Be that as it may, this post of yours is a prime example of the beauty of God’s lessons, that we see all around us in His creation and God has given you the ability to actually capture it and put it into words. I will repost it because it’s just too good not to share. I am grateful to our loving God for reinforcing His lessons we all need to learn, all around us and I am grateful that He has given this gift to you, so that you can share it with those of us who do not always see His lessons in His creation, as clearly as you do. Dealing with “storms” seems to be a prevalent theme as of late, that God has been bringing to our awareness. This morning, an old hymn came to mind where the chorus is “leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus, safe and secure from all alarms” and it is humbling to comprehend the grace that He bestows upon us. Thank you, Gary, for being open to His teachings, as you are and thank you for sharing your insight, with us. And thank you Lord for your all consuming grace. God’s continued grace, peace and blessings on you and yours.

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    1. I am grateful for your kind words Bruce as well as the repost. Sometimes pain in life can open our eyes to visual insights. It has for me. I suppose a good book title might be “Sermons from nature” or something along that line. I do not post much and often wonder if it’s worth the effort. I have arrived at posting when I feel I have to and when something seems “sharable” as well as profitable to others.

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    1. It’s ok Lesley. I also fish. We are not vegetarians and I grew up on the farm where we raised and butchered our own chickens and animals. We also hunted a lot to supplement our food from the garden. We actually have some friends who eat meat but buy it in the store so someone else has to kill the animal. The average deer lives 3 years and most in our area are eaten by wolves and the fawns by bear in the spring. Wolves may eat up to a quarter to a third of the deer before it actually dies. Skilled hunters are very humane compared to natures way of doing things.

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  4. Beautiful Gary!
    How blessed you and I are to live where our prayers and His Word join with Nature to reach, preach, and encourage us through life’s storms and rejoice in the sunshine times, reminding and comforting our souls with “Whoever has the Son has life”.
    Thank you for inspiring mine today Brother. Be blessed!
    Thank you

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    1. Thank You Fred. One’s living location, in many ways limits or allows life’s’ insights. I think you nailed it when it comes to living in and seeing nature in all of it’s forms, and it sure has a lot of forms.

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  5. Excellent faith/life thoughts. Just now I glanced out the window and saw a great flock of geese headed south, just as God intended for them to do. That’s a great comfort when all around seems cold, dark, and foreboding. We can trust that God’s master plan is being worked out down to the smallest detail.

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    1. Those geese are smart, it’s going to get much colder tonight. They actually have been given an extremely accurate sense of timing as well as navigation by God who wants us to follow Him and not just wander aimlessly through life

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  6. These are really great photos, Gary. Thank you. Good work. It must have been a lot of fun out there. They are indicative of our special season here in America, invoking the great traditions of the holidays, a winter wonderland. In reality, of course, whoever is caught out in such a great scene unprepared is pretty much dead. So I’m glad the Lord gives us the antidote from these same trees, the ones that have already done their full survival and passed on, yet still exist to give life through a good warming stay-alive fire. There is something great about a winter campfire.

    That bent over tree is something. There are so many bent over people who have suffered a great trauma at some point in their lives, many at a relatively young or middle age, yet overcame it and are still viable, and though they may be recognized more so because of their injury, as a horizontal tree, they are less recognized for their great powerful spirit that insisted they overcome, and then, through a strong determined will, not only overcome but thrive. These are the no-quitters who live anyway. Most, sadly, remain unrecognized for their true self. They are mostly only seen for the effect the trauma had on their lives. Yet they stand as living monuments anyway for the very few who can see and they provide wonderful inspiration.

    This post is great ministry, a great example of real ministry, showing stark reality, beauty, and the hope of overcoming.

    Our once great country has fallen into a pit. Winter, as you said, has provided a scary parallel. Some have been engaged in a very long war trying to stop what was surely on the way, unless the required changes were embraced, which, of course, haven’t been, for most. Regardless, there remain a great many, small only by percentage, who remain in great faith, whom the Lord is working through every day, who may bend under the onslaught of spiritual war, as that noble sideways tree, but NEVER break.

    The Lord Jesus has never been defeated and never will be. He is the One great Champion of all time, absolutely worthy of our praise. Whoever lives and works in His camp will fare as He fares. Whoever fights alongside Him in this great war will never be defeated either. His Kingdom is forever. This world is not.

    How do we know who the blessed ones are? They get a fire in deep winter which allows them to enjoy it. Amen.

    Appreciate it. Blessings

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    1. Thanks RJ. It is a lot of fun if I have the right equipment. This winter I’ll be cutting up a bunch of fallen and dead trees for sitting around the fire and for neighbors not able to cut their own wood. Because of storms there is a lot of mature trees gone. Our forest here is turning over to new growth and will welcome the space on the forest floor for more growth.
      Fire is an amazing concept we take for granted. May the fire of God burn in us for it’s warmth and purifying

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  7. God provides nature for us, for so many reasons. Nature speaks to the hearts of some more than others. I am blessed that God provided a husband for me who has the same heart for nature. You’ve expressed that heart beautifully, and I thank you. God always provides: He gives us eyes to see. Your eyes saw, and shared God’s gift.

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    1. Thanks Kathy. Getting deep into the woods in the cold is not for everyone to do. You are so right about how much is provided for us in nature. We have a friend who has a couple doctoral degrees in the properties and natural uses of plants and soil ingredients for health, as well as being a medical doctor. I get so amazed when I hear her knowledge of these things. A walk through the trails in the woods is really quite eye opening. It also makes me realize how much I really don’t know.
      your husband would probably love a BWCA wilderness trip??

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    2. The BWCA stands for Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It’s a million acres of extremely wild rocky country and lakes. Federally protected so no motorized vehicles allowed. Travel by canoe or dogsled or on foot, snowshoeing or skiing in the winter. The Canadian side is more rugged with less visitors. It’s also just as big an area. A lifetime of exploration the old fashioned way. 67 trips for me. You can tell I like it.

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  8. Amazing photos! Will you hear lake “pops” as it continues to freeze, or how often does that happen. The first time I heard it on a lake in Alaska, I about freaked out thinking someone was shooting somewhere nearby, but then the rebounding alien spaceship sounds that made me wonder if we were being invaded! Love the north country’s beauty and mysteries, and its spiritual lessons.
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

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    1. Yes, CA, it will pop and boom all winter. When ever the temps drop and it freezes deeper. Two feet of ice expanding, cracking and freezing the cracks booms later in winter while our little 3 inches just pops a little. I was fishing with a friend on a thick sheet of ice once when we heard the lake crack continuously a long ways away coming our way. The ice opened up about 4 inches right between his feet and headed for shore. His comment “I think it’s a sign”. We both laughed. He got in his car on the ice and drove home. I kept fishing.
      Yes, lots of spiritual lessons and parallels to life.

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    1. I’m glad you mentioned that Cindy. another parallel.
      I have a friend who got up one morning and walked on the dock of the lake. The jiggling of the dock on the perfectly still water allowed the super cooled molecules to bond around the dock and causing the big lake where he is to crackle and freeze over in a matter a a few seconds. Anything can trigger it, a duck or fish or otter. It’s a very odd thing but the water needs to be super cooled on the surface all across the lake, otherwise it does freeze gradually from the shallow water and out. It sometimes takes days.

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      1. Wow! I would love to see that happen! God’s creation is amazing. I love to watch the stars. When I take my little Yorkie out at night, I can see Mercury and Jupiter from right outside my door – with the naked eye! Blessings, Gary!

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  9. “I pray we help one another through the storms of life rather than being a storm in others lives.”

    Gary,
    Such a beautiful post. Breathtaking words and stunning images. You captured the mystery and wonder and unknown we stand face to face with. And then one day, we will stand face to Face with Him! Like I said, you captured it.
    Thank you.
    Deb

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    1. Thanks Deb. I do believe that nature as well as similar hard experiences in life help us bypass the fluff and surface of words and thought. Words framed by pictures help us all see deeper in reference to our own unique souls journey. That’s my explanation anyway.

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  10. I’m not sure which part I loved most about this post Gary- the words or the pictures. I had to think how the color of the sunset illuminating the storm battered trees illustrated Isaiah 61 “Because the Lord has anointed Me . . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Those trees are both preaching and praising. And, I echo that prayer, “Lord, I pray that I will be a vessel for helping others through the storms of life rather than being a storm in others lives.”

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    1. Sometimes Beth those moments where gray skies part and color splashes everywhere are so surreal. Recording them needs changes in camera settings. Enjoying them is setting aside everything and just gazing because 5 to 7 minutes later it’s a dark gray with a tinge reminiscent of where a sunset was. Isaiah 61 is the perfect passage to think of. You added so much to the conversation, Thanks

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    1. Thanks much Alan. Harsh indeed. today is the nicest day in November so far here. 18 degree high and sunny. The sky cleared enough to put the sky on fire for 5 minutes and then let the snow take over. I am going to post a couple of those shots on Unsplash for free download for those that can use them. Being I have 10 canvas prints in the house, I probably should leave some wall space (wife talk).

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  11. I love how those pictures clearly demonstrate beauty in the midst of harsh conditions. You are absolutely right…even the grayest days holds it’s own beauty. It’s not always evident, like the vibrant colors we can clearly see in one of your pictures. But with Jesus, we can know that his beautiful presence is always there with us. I so appreciate your insight and sharing these incredible pictures Gary. Blessings to you!!!

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    1. Thank You Stephanie. Kind words make the last two weeks of very harsh weather sooth one’s soul. I protected my camera from the elements most of the time. Beauty has a nature all it’s own, even in the worst conditions sometimes. I have used winter often as “cold beauty.” “Harsh beauty” and “raw beauty” are close cousins. It would be interesting how many kinds of beauty have been used by bloggers.
      All in all, insights from our visual experiences grow us as in a unique way. maybe they fill in the gaps from the insights of life experience. Just com-pondering as part of my comment.

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    1. So very true Sandra. I watch animals a lot. They are really in touch with all that goes on because they are constantly stopping to listen and interpret what they hear and sometimes see. we should all consider the lilies, understand we are like the flower that fades but also seen by God who knows when a sparrow falls.

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    1. I relate to broken things in nature a lot. When I was young a sawblade came loose from a machine and severed the main nerves in both arms. very little function below the elbows at age 11. No one was sure how I survived. The doctor prescribed playing the piano for as many hours a day as I could in hopes that I would gain some finger function. It took about 10 years but gradually worked to possibly 70% function. The emotional loss I have battled most of my life in some ways. I also have some gifts and growth I would never have but for that brokenness. Trusting a God who allows those things is a really big decision.

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      1. Wow, you’ve had quite a journey. Thank you for sharing part of your story, I have no doubt that it will encourage others to continue to trust God through their trials and hard times. I recently read two Timothy Keller books on this very topic, as my family is currently facing an unexpected curve-ball. The books are: ‘Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering’ and The Reason for God.”

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  12. Good books Jill. Timothy Keller understands that area of life. God is not afraid to let us go through more than we can bear on our own but we can actually grow and thrive on God’s reliance should we stick it out on the potters wheel.

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    1. Thanks AJ. I ponder well while ice fishing. I’m just sitting or standing there with a line through the ice, no boat to control and casting is seasonal….Speaking of storms, Wisconsin is getting hit right now. Yesterday on one of our big lakes here in Minnesota, over 200 ice fishermen were stranded as a big section of ice broke apart in a wind and made open water between them and shore. It looks like next week our bottom temps will break -10 degrees. Winter is here. No one here will escape that either.

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  13. Think in terms of “adventure” AJ.
    Over thanksgiving dinner (I missed part of it) my son was asked if his dad had been ice fishing yet on this years very iffy ice. I am told he gave the long answer by retelling his first ice fishing experience that he remembers. It seems that as we were walking out on the lake, I gave him two very large nails and said “here, stick these in your pocket”. He asked “what for?” I said “if we fall through you will need them to stick in the ice and pull yourself out”…his answer “cool”
    (The ice was very safe by the way, over 7″ clear ice. He was quite young, and we had hot Chocolate and cookies).

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