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Amy Grant: ‘Being Out in Nature Feels Like Being a Guest in God’s House’

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The following is an excerpt from What Did Jesus Ask?, edited by Elizabeth Dias and published by TIME Books, available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Read other excerpts from the book here.

“Do you understand what I have done for you?”—John 13:12

One recent Saturday, I found myself with an unexpected stretch of solitude at the end of a glorious sunlit winter day. I drove to the place where my husband Vince and I were married, the same hillside where my mother’s ashes are buried. I took a long walk in the woods and built a roaring campfire just as the sun was setting.

Coyotes began yipping and howling in the distance. Their eerie cries escalated to a frenzy … then fell silent.

I wondered what they were doing. I wondered what I was doing. Sometimes I come here just to be.

Several years ago, I was sitting in this same spot as an afternoon storm approached. The wind was loud and the sky was yellow- green. Down the hill the air exploded with dirt and tree limbs. A small twister must have touched down.

I was a little nervous that day but not afraid.

Being out in nature feels like being a guest in God’s house. Even if you are not talking to him, you know he’s there. The sense of God’s presence in the stillness that I find here is the reason I keep coming back.

I felt the same thing as a child on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights, when we sang in harmony at the Church of Christ. The hymns brought the feeling of his presence.

Sitting beside the crackling fire, I welcomed the stillness. It had been a busy time, and I had been looking forward to a night like this. As I studied the stars and stared into the blackness beyond, I felt a presence in the vastness of the universe and a tightening in my chest. I used to imagine being in outer space, untethered and drifting helplessly unchecked. I had that sensation now.

“Our Father who art in Heaven …”

Saying the words out loud removed all feeling of separation. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end; a shiver ran through me. And my heart raced.

The feeling was bone-chilling and unexpected, as if I had lowered my face into the surface of a wave and found myself staring into the eye of a whale.

I recognized God’s presence.

“Do you know what I have done for you?” Jesus asked his disciples after he had washed their feet, on the night he would be betrayed.

Do you know what I have done for you?

I can barely wrap my mind around the edge of that thought, the way my eyes can see only a tiny piece of the universe.

As the Gospel writer said, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.”

Amy Grant is a Grammy Award winner whose career spans more than 30 years, from her roots in gospel music to becoming a pop star, songwriter, television personality and philanthropist.

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