Welcome to guest blogger and Connection Messenger, Mark E. Johnson. Read more about Mark below. His piece reminds us that life's precious connections—in this case Connection with God and Connection with Nature—often intersect with powerful impact on our experience of each. 

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This morning, Holly and I had the honor and privilege of listening to South African cattleman and evangelist Angus Buchan speak at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn.  The main point of his sermon was that, as Christ followers, we should insist on finding daily quiet time to work on our relationship with Jesus.

Angus said that although he devotes portions of each day to this critical quiet time, he also communicates with God through nature as he rides his horse across his farm in Greytown.

As I listened, I was reminded of how blessed I've been in my life to have experienced some incredibly profound and memorable moments of quiet time.  This first I specifically remember was when I was a teenager growing up in the North Carolina mountains.  Fall was my favorite time of year because that's when squirrel season was in.

Much like a golfer loves golf because of the setting of the sport, I couldn't wait to get into the woods each day.  I wasn't the most prolific hunter, but no one could match my enthusiasm for being alone on the mountain with my knee-high Apache moccasins and bolt-action Remington rifle.

To reach my preferred hunting area, I had to walk approximately two miles across the base of Phoenix Mountain, usually getting out before sunrise.  I can recall sitting quietly at the edge of a high pasture — not another person, building, or road in sight — and being filled and nearly overcome by what I then suspected was the Holy Spirit.  (Now, I'm sure that's what it was.)  By eliminating the distractions of modern life and simply focusing on God's creation, I was able to be more receptive to what He wanted for me, although I wasn’t mature enough at the time to realize what a gift this was.

There have since been other moments like that.  Sitting on the beach of Buck Island just off of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands was one.  Watching meteorites in the brilliant night sky of a Vail, Colo., forest was another, and working on my book in a 180-year-old cabin in Pall Mall, Tenn.  More recently, standing on the giant boulders of Mt. Lemon, near Tucson, Ariz.

And, simply watching the cardinals and chickadees at my backyard bird feeder.

These are the moments that add the color and texture to the work of art that constitutes our lives.  I firmly believe that God has provided these amazing and poignant settings here on Earth so that we can simply get closer to Him, and hear Him more clearly.

Angus reminded me today that I must make more of these quiet moments happen.  It should be a priority.

Consider it done.

Photo credit above: “Blue Ridge Morning” by Sophie Mullinax, Asheville, NC, via StockXChng
Photo of Mark E. Johnson

Mark E. Johnson

Mark Johnson has worked with Tennessee Farmers Cooperative since 2003 as assistant editor of the Tennessee Cooperator and has since collected more than 100 Cooperative Communicators Association and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives awards in writing, photography, broadcast advertising, and editing.  He is also an active freelance writer and blogger (See A Write Smart: Info for a Better Life), and is writing his first novel of historical fiction.  Before coming to work at TFC, Mark spent five years as a graphic designer and 12 years as a touring musician and Nashville songwriter. He lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with his wife, Holly, and children Sam, Ava, and Pete.

Connect with Mark on Twitter.

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