God and the Grand Canyon

We were sitting in the shade on the switchback one mile from the top of the Grand Canyon.  Looking out over the canyon, the red rock was bright and you could see the lighter bands of rock in between marking the passage of time.  The Colorado River was so far away that it looked like a ribbon winding it’s way down the bottom of the canyon while high over head the ravens soared with wings wide.  It was a glorious…and then a guy passed us RUNNING UP the trail!

Here I was sweating with a 20 lbs baby on my back and this guy is RUNNING!  Did I mention that I was carrying a 20 lbs human?!?!?

Regardless of my feelings of masculine insecurity in that moment, the Grand Canyon is definitely grand.  Actually, a better way to say it is that it’s so big that your brain can’t comprehend how big it is.  You look down at the path below you and think, “That looks like it’s far away.”  And then, you see hikers on that same trail, and these adult humans look like ants.  And they aren’t even at the bottom of the canyon…that is even farther down.  And then you realize how amazingly big it really is and how small you are.  You realize how awesome the Creator God is and how much we are like a speck of dust.

Later in the week, our family was reading Psalm 104 and I was struck by how many of the images in the psalm fit our Grand Canyon experience…

  • The light in the Canyon at sunrise and sunset is amazing as the light turns to a red/orange and the same colors and shadows in the canyon slowly glow and then fade into blues and greys.
  • As we watched a storm move across the canyon, we could see the band of clouds rolling in and hear the wind whistling around the rim.
  • Going on a Geology Walk, we were amazed at the different layers of rock and how the hard basement rock is so different from the different rock layers above it.
  • Did you know that there are fossils of sea creatures on the rim of the canyon?  There are!  scientists believe that at one point there was a sea/body of water there that later vanished and then the movement of teutonic plates made that part of the earth’s crust heave upwards creating the elevation needed to create the canyon.
  • At a rest stop, we met a Boy Scout troupe who described water gushing out of the rocks at the bottom of the canyon.
  • We also saw the mule train going down into the canyon with riders and supplies.  These sure footed animals are made for the mountains!
  • Driving out of the park, we saw one of the many controlled burns to keep the dead wood and brush under control.  The smoke rolled up from the ground creating a haze the billowed in the rays of sunlight.

So now that I’ve given you a few verbal pictures, here are selections from Psalm 104:

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
    you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
    he stretches out the heavens like a tent
   and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
    and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
    flames of fire his servants.

He set the earth on its foundations;
    it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
    they went down into the valleys,
    to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
    never again will they cover the earth.

He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches…

All creatures look to you
    to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
    they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
    they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
    they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit,
    they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works—
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    as I rejoice in the Lord

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.



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