Don’t be fooled by the majesty of the snow-capped-in-summer Rocky Mountains. Don’t be tricked by the pastel beauty of the Arizona desert at sunset. Don’t even get deceived by the blazing blue Pacific slapping powerfully again and again, against the sandy and sunny Southern California coast.
I was looking at these wonders of creation last week, on a cross-country roadtrip, where I met my wife and daughter in San Diego. As part of my trip, I wanted to capture various thoughts and realizations that appeared along the way. I spoke words into a small battery-powered voice recorder, and one of the segments included these words. “Don’t be fooled by the colored layers of the rocks and the heights those mountains and even these eye-popping views.”
Driving almost solo, for days on end, with only Roxy along for the ride, is one of my favorite ways to unwind from the world. Seeing the American West, in its vast and untamed glory, is thrilling every time I experience it. I love to look at jagged ranges of rock and shallow valleys that provide 100 mile views all around. It was interesting to me, that I was reminded during this amazing trip, to not be fooled by these awesome spectacles of God’s handiwork.
It reminds me of one experience I had on a bus down in the Ozarks. My wife and I were loading up with a crowd of canoers to head back to camp after a day on the river. One guy in particular wanted to talk to me, he was pretty drunk, and wanted to philoso-phize about life. I was sober that day, and offered him a water or a diet sprite, I think he took it.
He was talking about how his ‘church’ was a day out in nature. He respected the mighty Oak tree and saw it as a beautiful creation. I’m not sure he meant that he worshiped the tree itself. He was adamant though, that the tree was just as worthy of his attention as anything else. He was satisfied spiritually to sit in the presence of that tree and enjoy its profound elegance.
Blasting along the highways out West, I was feeling the same way. I was sucked into the grandeur of the scenery. One divine moment happened when I was slicing through the narrow plains by Rifle, Colorado on I-70. Mountains soared to the South and the rose slightly less to the North. It was late evening, but the sun was still out. A deep purple mass of storm lay ahead. I hammered the gas pedal toward it, taking on rain and pebbly hail as the light around me faded away.
The pitch black visibility was snapped and flashed intermittently by bolts of lightning. The loud rain smacking the windshield was only quieted by the deafening crackling thunder. The rain increased until I was driving through a shallow river on the road. Obviously, I had to slow way down and ride carefully through this downpour.
In my CD player, I had inserted a disk that was a recording from one of our Westminster Presbyterian Church services. It happened to be from the July 4th weekend from the year before. The evening I’m talking about was also on July 2nd, coincidentally. Just as the storm was at it’s worst, I heard a single booming voice through my speakers… “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”… It went on, almost a capella… I cranked the volume… “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on!”
Our pastor Ron’s voice emboldened my weakening and tired spirit! I was instantly enthused and invigorated! The Battle Hymn of the Republic restored my confidence with instant rejuvenation!
Perfect timing, perfect song, perfect moment in a tempest squall in a tight mountain canyon! There was a raging river to my right and a vertical wall to my left. It was all chaos in the darkness and hail. With Ron’s golden voice singing God’s power though, nothing could penetrate the breastplate of my faith.
Even all this though, the perfectness of it, the power of it, could be a moment of deception. Later on, as I watched the mountains touched by the colors of a clear sunset, and all the noise had calmed down. I wanted to tell myself not to be fooled by the awesomeness of it all…
See, as amazing as all this is, and was, these are the outward, worldly and even tangible proofs of God’s mighty hand of creation. The rocks and rain and even Ron’s powerful vocal chords are just things. All things have a short life in the grand scheme. As incomprehensible as it is, to gaze upon the Grand Canyon from the Southern Rim and drive along it’s vast openness, it won’t last forever. These objects we see with our eyes and touch with our feet are not the limit of God’s creative force. These are just reminders of God’s power.
The same exact Almighty, that crafted these world wonders, can duplicate these creations within the human heart. Our inner spirit is made of the same clay and can be molded by the same divine Potter. The mountains and the valleys and the vast deserted open plains within us, can be shifted by God. Where there was desert, God can make fertile soil. Where walls of solid granite stood, God can turn them to dust. Where the ground underneath is all quicksand, unsteady and loose, God can transform it to polished marble.
All the possibility we can see with our own two eyes, gazing upon these astonishing landscapes, or the intricate lodgepole pines, or the tiny mountaintop wildflowers, are nothing, compared to the changes God can make in our own hearts. If we open the invitation to Jesus Christ, the mountains move instantly, the murky seas dry up, blooms pop where there was desert before.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that all God’s beautiful work, is expended upon the world. There is immeasurable creativity left, for You and for Me. The Lord knows how much I still need it, and this small reminder encourages my Soul. My being is forever changed with God’ transformative power at work on me. The rest will be dust in the wind, and yet the beauty of new life with God, lives on perpetually…
Until next week my friends, Be Well, and may God Bless all your travels, as He has mine.