Sunday, August 19, 2007

Grand Worship

Becki and I visited the Grand Canyon today. As it was the first time for both of us, neither of us was sure what to expect. One of Becki’s family members told us that you are likely to be overwhelmed by the awesome power of God. One of my family members told us that it’s just a big hole in the ground.

I really had no idea what to expect. Really… none. We had extended a “take our son back to college” trip and turned it into a little vacation for the 2 of us. I really hoped it wasn’t just a big hole in the ground, but I also didn’t want to get my hopes too high.

We parked in the lot and walked over to the first of many viewing points. I was amazed! I’m not exaggerating when I say that I couldn’t speak. Not so much because of the sheer beauty (it was beautiful!) but because I felt a strange sense of God’s awesomeness, even presence there. It was kind of a “take off your shoes...” moment. It reminded me of when I was a kid and got to watch my older cousin Randy take in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. He was from Pennsylvania and had never seen such a sight. He just stood there, alone, for the longest time. I guess Becki’s sister was right. Sorry, un-named family member of mine.

The sacredness of the moment was in pretty steep competition with the din of the the crowd. This is peek tourist season, and they (we) were out in droves. Many internationals chattering away in various tongues; children (too many unsupervised) running around, going off the trails, throwing assorted items of clothing over the edge; and young lovers oblivious to their surroundings – clinging and slobbering as if it might be their last goodbye.

No sooner had Becki said something about God getting people’s attention, than a huge black cloud exploded with a flash of lightening, a boom of thunder, and a deluge of huge raindrops. It was as if HE was saying “HEY!!! People... I’m speaking through this creation… shut up and listen.” I’m not sure any of the people heard Him, but they scattered mighty quickly (being native Oregonians, the rain doesn’t bother us) Suddenly the place was empty, we were alone. The holy hush this place deserved was back, and we were both caught up in worship.

We spent the next several hours working our way down the canyon (downstream, not down to the floor) enjoying the vistas and marveling at the constant changes as the sunlight and clouds morphed the picture. Curtains of rain seemed to usher in new scenes, as in a play. As we approached the last viewpoint in the line (Hermit’s Rest) we saw a huge rainbow arching across one of the side canyons. Once again, we were caught up in worship.

We wondered if anyone else was drawn to worship in this place, or had it become just something to do when you’re in Arizona? (kind of like seeing the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona (we did that yesterday, and that’s quite another story).

Well just when a person might give up any hope of God getting credit for any of this, I stumbled across this sign… it’s from Psalm 68:4. Kinda funny, I think. All of the hullabaloo about separation of church and state, and here – at a national park that celebrates the millions and millions of years it took “nature” to carve this ditch – here, at last, God is honored. Very cool.

We finished the visit at sunset with a few hundred people at the Hopi Point Vista, a perfect place for watching sunsets. And you know what? I think in the hushed “wow’s” and “that’s amazing’s”, worship may have happened for some people who never find themselves in a church. I think, for most of us gathered there, there was no escaping Creator’s awesome power and beauty.

Thanks God, for a beautiful day. And thanks for a wonderful soulmate who loves to stand in the rain on the rim of the canyon and worship.