Reflections from the Grand Canyon

Back in April my husband and I vacationed in Arizona. We began our trip in Sedona, and upon entering “Red Rock Country” we were immediately awed. The rocks were striking. Rising above the earth, massive structures littered the skyline. The layers of sedimentary rock were gorgeous—many hues of reds, pinks, oranges and tan that blended together to form breathtaking skyscrapers. We walked around Sedona’s Red Rock Park, my husband snapping pictures every few feet, attempting to capture the beauty of the rocks at just the right angle.

We thought it couldn’t get any better, and then we drove to our hotel.

The rocks that looked near when we were at the park were actually miles away from us, but it turns out they were merely across the street from our hotel. As we drove closer and closer to the geologic wonders, we continued to be dumbfounded at the majesty of it all. The details visible at such close proximity were incredible. Me, Miss. I-Can’t-Sit-Still-And-Do-Nothing felt as if I could sip coffee and stare at rocks all day long. Yet again, we thought it couldn’t get any better.

Then, we went to the Grand Canyon.

It sounds cliche, and it is, but there are no adequate words to describe seeing the Grand Canyon. (Though that doesn’t mean that I won’t try—this is a blog after all.) The majesty, wonder, vastness, and sheer size seem incomprehensible.

In high school I visited the Grand Canyon, and I remember it being “grand”. I remember enjoying it, thinking it was massive, and then checking it off my bucket list as something I never needed to do again. I chase new experiences, and I thought the Grand Canyon was old hat for me.

I could not have been more wrong.

Though this wasn’t my first time seeing the Grand Canyon, it was my first time experiencing it. For the first time I absorbed the Grand Canyon while also allowing myself to be open to what the Holy Spirit might have to show me.

My main takeaway? The Bible, God’s Word, gives a taste of God, wetting our appetite for seeing Him face-to-face.

If you have been to the Grand Canyon, you’ve probably said this phrase: “Pictures just don’t do it justice.” If I had a nickel for every time one of us uttered that phrase, I’d have enough to purchase my next plane ticket. As overused as that statement may be, it’s the truth. No matter how many different pictures from different angles one sees, experiencing it in person is life changing. One feels simultaneously utterly insignificant and supremely valued. To think, the Creator of the Grand Canyon is intimately acquainted with our thoughts and knows us right down to the number of hairs on our head (Ps. 94:11 & Luke 12:7)!

Yet, just because “pictures don’t do it justice”, does not mean I never want to see a picture of it again. On the contrary! I bought some prints of an artist’s rendering of the canyon that now sit prominently on a shelf in my kitchen. We took a plethora of pictures as we sat, walked, and hiked. Though I haven’t printed any yet, we have plans to order large canvases of some of our favorite scenery pictures (printing pictures speedily is not my spiritual gift, so please no judgment if within a year they still aren’t printed). The pictures, though not the fullness of the real thing, make me long for the real thing.

Scripture does the same. Within the pages of Scripture I begin to understand who God is. I see His lovingkindness. I see the patience of God. I see His justice and mercy, His omnipotence, His eternal nature, and His immutability. I see His faithfulness. Though all of these things and more I only understand slightly. It’s like seeing a beautiful picture of the Grand Canyon but not experiencing it for yourself yet.

Paul echoed this thought in I Corinthians 13:12 when he said,

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.”

I Corinthians 13:12

God fully knows us now, but we will not fully know Him until heaven. In the mean time, we should seek after God and desire to know Him as much as possible (Ps. 73:25 & 27:4). The main way to do that? Spend time in His Word. Any book, chapter, or page points to Him in one way or another, but a couple good starting points are the Gospel of John or the Gospel of Mark. Like how pictures of the Grand Canyon give us some knowledge of the real place, Scripture helps us to grasp the nature of God. It’s not complete knowing, like being there in person, but God does reveal Himself in the Bible (2 Tim 3:16; Heb 1:1-3).

One day, we will see Jesus face-to-face. We will be in the presence of the Almighty Father. On that day we will witness what words fail to adequately describe. We will be awestruck by His majesty and glory. In a very small way, I imagine it may feel a bit like seeing the Grand Canyon in person.

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