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Friday, July 8, 2016

Desert Rocks


His name was Walter, and he was painted with old-fashioned cartoons.  He would be our ride for the next week and a half.  It was a hot day in the desert, and we were off on an adventure.  We met up with the three RVs- one had a flat tire within an hour or two of the start.  Walmart was the first necessary stop after the fixed tire episode, and 15 of us (16 counting baby inside me) made a grand entrance with our matching blue t-shirts and exuberant energy, ready to kick off this trip!


It was called the "Great Western Loop" and my family had been planning it for years, in particular my  middle brother who is always looking for an adventure for us all to share.  We had to postpone it last summer due to my steady, but slow recovery, not realizing that Jamie would be going through chemo and recovering as well!  Yes, I am so very glad we didn't attempt this nail-biting, cliff-walking trip when the two of us were hobbling around and I was still one very dizzy girl!


I remember lying in my recovery bed in Santa Monica, in February of 2015, listening to Bethel worship music at night ever so faintly out of my right ear. With my iPod across the room as a gentle soothing comfort, my head was throbbing, no sound able to penetrate my left ear except the sounds of constant ringing pulsing.  I remember dreaming of going to the desert on this trip one day in the future and being able to climb on rocks and walk and run again.  I remember imagining being able to hold my head up once again and be able to see clearly and even hear once again.  I remember these visions at night that brought me hope in my darkest, loneliest place, when all I felt was physical pain covering me.  Those visions and dreams I had set aside for a year and a half while life took us by surprise after surprise, ups and downs, challenges and blessings.  Cancer. Engagement. Chemo. Wedding. Healing. Baby. Here I am, home after our western trip and I realize the vision came to a reality, and God was faithful.


It makes me think of the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, when God answers him so very directly:

"For the vision vision is yet for the appointed [future] time.
It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail.
Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it,
Because it will certainly come; it will not delay."
(Habakkuk 2:3)


Our Western adventure was a time of exploring creation, bonding with family, experiencing campground dirt and desert sun.  It was one breath-taking national park after another...We walked the Narrows at Zion, saw the intense pink sun setting over the land and peeking through massive rocks while exploring Arches, saw the sunrise on the magical looking "hoodoos" of Bryce Canyon, and so much more.  We truly witnessed wonder after wonder, and our hearts were stirred to worship the Living God.  



A few weeks ago, before our trip, our pastor had a sermon on the first chapter of Romans, and he spoke about the inverted order of our day, which is so similar to that of the time of Rome.  God designed the world and He is first and foremost above all else.  It's pretty simple: Creator first, humanity second, and the rest of glorious creation third.  However, it has been twisted time and again, generation after generation.  Unfortunately, creation seems to take first place in our culture's mind, then humanity is expected to serve and worship creation, then if we acknowledge God, we put him way down in the lowest of third place- some far-off distant Being whom we don't really know personally.  The truth is, mankind was made to give glory to God.  Creation was made to reflect His majesty!  He designed it so that we, human beings, would take care of creation and rule over it.  We are not to worship the creation, but look at what He has made and allow it to inspire us to worship the Maker!  In Colossians, the Apostle Paul clearly speaks of the preeminence of Christ Jesus.


"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--
all things were created through Him and for Him.
And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
(Colossians 1:15)


In our culture, we try so hard to preserve the incredible rocks and clay and vast array of marvelous creatures.  This is all very good, because we were appointed to take care over God's creation.  I love nature and ever since I was a little girl, spending time outside is where my heart comes most fully alive.  The issue is when geological formations and endangered species are held in such esteem, they seem to rule over man and God.  (I cannot help but be reminded that human beings are quite endangered these days- the human womb the most dangerous of all places with one third of my generation being massacred before their birth).  Well, Jesus had another point of view.  During His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the Pharisees were telling him point-blank to scold his disciples and the crowd for worshipping Him and declaring aloud His praise.  

"Jesus replied, 'I tell you, if these [people] keep silent, the stones will cry out [in praise]!'"
(Luke 19:40)


There we have it- if we as people do not declare the worship and glory of our Lord, the very stones and rocks of the earth will cry out His praise!  Nothing can silence the worship of the King!  I've thought long and hard about what to write in this blog, because I beheld so many incredible sights on our adventure and soaked in so much magnificent beauty.  Whether peering out from Walter's window or hiking somewhat treacherous switchbacks, holding a niece or nephews little hand (and so thankful for my improved vision and balance that allowed me to do just that!), it all pointed to one thing in my mind:  Our God is beyond fathom in His glory and wonder.  His majesty is stunning and this world is filled with grand sights and awe-inspiring places.  He is a God who keeps His Word and is faithful.  He is the Creator.  He is the Healer.  He is the Redeemer.  He is not to be compared.  


"Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; Shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it!
For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb:
'I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself...
Who says to the deep, 'be dry; I will dry up your rivers'"
(Isaiah 44:23-27)


"A voice of one calling: 'In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; 
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  
Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low...
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all the people will see it together...

'All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers to he field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the Word of our God endures forever.'

You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain...
lift up your voice with a shout...
'Here is your God!' See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power...
"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

Who can fathom the Spirit of the LORD, or instruct the LORD as his counselor?
Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way?...
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket...
He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust...
With whom, then, will you compare God?  To what image will you liken Him?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy and spread them out like a tent to live in."
(Isaiah 40)