[guestpost]On p. 155 in my book How Am I Smart? I write about adults with nature-smart strengths who are able to connect well with God while surrounded by trees. When Randy Thomas, my guest blogger today, entered a woods a number of years ago, he didn’t expect it to be more about God than the trees. But it was. I’m grateful Randy is sharing his intimate encounter with God with us. Be encouraged! Listen for God to speak His powerful and beautiful love over you. He speaks and we’re wise to listen. – Kathy[/guestpost]

A few years ago, I was in northern Illinois speaking at a conference and one afternoon I decided to take a walk in the woods that this particular retreat center was located in. Living in Florida we don’t get the changing leaves like most of the rest of the country when Fall sets in. Our trees bloom actually. So I was excited to have a new camera and wanted to take some cool pictures. The picture in this post is from that little excursion.

And honestly, I don’t think I was even really thinking about the Lord.

As I was walking along, not only were the leaves beautiful but the light filtering through the forest canopy made for some strikingly beautiful moments as well.

I stopped to look at one particular shaft of light that brilliantly lit up a small patch in the forest. Out of the blue I heard our Abba Father say, “Go stand in the light.” Of course I immediately thought my imagination was going into overdrive and quickly dismissed it. That can’t be the Lord. Then I heard, “This is Me… I want you to go stand in the light.” I thought, “Randy, you are finally going crazy. God? Really? God is telling you to go stand in the light, in the middle of the forest?” With a chuckle I started to continue my walk but there He was again, “Randy, it is Me, I really want you to go stand in the light.”

My response wasn’t very holy, “but … why? It’s pretty and all but I can see it from here. Plus, the patch isn’t very clear and there could be spiders, a snake and who knows what in there …”

I am such a suburbs kind of guy. Nature and I have a rocky relationship.

The Father said, “I want you to go stand in the light.” I finally quit being ornery and said, “Yes Lord.”

So feeling kind of goofy and kind of convinced I should go to therapy, I walked over and stood in the middle of the patch of light. “Ok Lord, here I am … tah dah…”

Abba responded, “I love you Randy and I love this living picture of you standing in the midst of My Creation. I wanted to capture this moment, this “shot” of you.”

I dropped my head began to lightly weep. I wasn’t crazy … He didn’t want me to get a better picture of this patch of ground for my camera … my Father wanted His own picture of me enjoying Him and His creation, in this setting, in this lighting … just for Him.

Then He said, “Randy, lift your face toward the sun.” So I did, and it was chilly in the woods that day so the warmth of the sun felt really good. As I meditated on how pleasurable that felt, the Father said, “Today, this is how I am kissing your face.”

That statement sent me over the edge and I went into immediate Communion and worship.

There was nothing “lightly” to my weeping at that point but it wasn’t the wild incapacitating weeping either. It was genuine tears of joy and thanksgiving, I put away my camera and lifted my hands and thanked Him for His goodness and declared my love for and to Him. I even sang some of Our favorite songs. Maybe I should say, “We” sang some of our favorite songs? It was one of those spiritual moments where I lost track of time … and didn’t care.

I didn’t go into the woods looking for Him to bless me. I just wanted some cool photographs. And yet by the time I got back to the retreat center, I couldn’t deny my Father was making it very clear, that very day … He loves me. His love imparted a deeper abiding peace that has never left.

I love my Father.

If you’d like to read more of Randy’s writings click here to visit his personal blog.