Thursday, December 18, 2008

God Is Sort Of Like That

Some of the most majestic, spectacular, breath-taking and awe-inspiring scenes we will ever see are also, potentially, the most risky, treacherous, anxiety-causing and fear-inducing encounters we will ever have.

It seems to me that God is sort of like that. Admittedly, I can't go too far with the idea and it probably breaks down fairly quickly... but bear with me.

Nicol and I have seen a lot of incredible places together... places that showcase God's creativity in such remarkable, unique, and there's-nowhere-else-on-earth-like-this ways that I have at times thought to myself, "I can totally see why God sort of sat back, looked at everything He had created, and said, 'This is good. Really, really, really good.'"

We've been to the San Diego Wild Animal Park to see the pseudo-African wildlife preserve that is home to rhinoceros, water buffalo, lions, tigers, silverback gorillas and more. We were able to get close enough to a momma lion and her cubs that we were extremely thankful for the moat and thick plexiglass wall that separated us. As beautiful and physically impressive as those cats were - fluffy, tan coats; well-defined musculature; powerful, bounding leaps across the range and all - there is absolutely no way you would ever consider getting near them. They would tear you to shreds.
Amazing to observe from a distance. Heart-poundingly frightening to get up close and personal to.

We've walked along the cliffs on the north coast of Northern Ireland, near the famed Dunluce Castle. I don't remember a lot about this, partly because it was about 6 years ago, mostly because it was freezing cold and drizzly. Plus, it was our honeymoon, so that's what I remember the most. But I do recall that the cliffs were more than a little bit intimidating. We walked rather cautiously along that path because it was somewhat slippery from the rain that was falling... and to be at the top of the cliffs was far more preferable than being at the bottom! Cautious as we were though, it was tempting to look out over the cliffs at the waves that were crashing beneath us. That said, there was no danger whatsover of us getting all that close to the edge because the risk to our safety was simply too great.

Thanks but no thanks. I'll do a Google image search for those views.

Mt. Katahdin, located in Baxter State Park in Maine, is the northern end of the Appalachian Trail. I have not hiked to its mile-high summit, but I have ventured to the top of its shorter neighbor to the west, Doubletop Mountain... enough of a challenge in its own right to make me appreciate anyone who has trekked higher than its 2000-or-so-foot peak. I've talked, however, to folks who, on their way to the top of Mt. Katahdin, crawled on their knees across Knife Edge, a narrow pass that looks like the edge of a knife (go figure) and has a reputation for reducing the bravest of souls to whimpering babes.
Gorgeous and spectacular from afar. Attention-getting and cardiac-arresting up close and personal.

We've been on a cruise ship as the captain carefully guided us thru Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. The water was a gorgeous blue-green. Whales could periodically be seen breaching in the distance. Sea lions and otters played off to the side of the ship. Smaller boats cruised by us. And, most spectacularly of all, massive ice chunks broke away from the (seemingly) Everest-like glacier that stood before us, sending ripples across the bay for what appeared to be miles and miles. I thought it would be AWESOME to be in a kayak out near the glacier. Then someone told me that the chunks of ice that were plunging into the water were the size of my car. Then I thought my idea was kinda dumb. Plus, I didn't think it would be so good if a whale breached beside me... kayaks tip easily.
Grand idea. Fun. But sometimes you can't know what you're getting into unless you have a birdseye view.

Some of the most majestic, spectacular, breath-taking and awe-inspiring scenes we will ever see are also, potentially, the most risky, treacherous, anxiety-causing and fear-inducing encounters we will ever have.
Somehow, it seems to me that God is sort of like that.
He is majestic, spectacular, breath-taking, awe-inspiring, beautiful, eternally loving, life-giving, a father-like provider and protector, a mother-like nurturer and comforter, sensationally able to do all things well, infinitely kind and merciful and gracious... He is indescribable.
He is risky, treacherous, anxiety-inducing, fear-inducing, unpredictable, unfathomable, the One who is capable of snuffing out all things bad yet also the One who allows all things bad... He is indescribable.
To see and experience Him from afar is incredible... but it is not enough.
To see and experience Him up close is satisfying... but it is risky.
His ways are not our ways.
God of heaven, in your kindness please give us the grace to trust you and follow you.


Kelly Bennett said...

thank you so much for your words today... they were exactly what I needed to hear.

Wendy said...

Beautifully written, and very true.
Love, Wen

Rachel E. said...

What beautiful pictures! What a blessing to have gotten to see all of those places in person. Was Summer with you for any of those travels?

Sun said...

WOW - that is all I can say - WOW. Sunshine

Angie said...

Thank you for sharing the pictures.

Anonymous said...

Reminds us that "Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above, in wisdom, power and LOVE---"
And His LOVE knows no boundary, but we must remember that we were created to worship Him.

sheila said...

That is alot to think about, thanks.

'But sometimes you can't know what you're getting into unless you have a birdseye view.' It's God's view that makes all the sense, yet at the time makes no sense. Lord help me to trust and know that your ways are so much higher than mine.

Great pics. In God's Love, sheila

Julie D. said...

I totally agree Greg!! It is beautiful to look around and see what he created. A couple of years ago, I climbed to the top of Mt. Katahdin with Joey and some of those same thoughts ran through my mind! It was AWESOME and unbelievable!!! It was, physically, the hardest thing I have ever done, but so rewarding!

Your words continue to touch and bless me!
Love in Christ, Julie Doody

Katie said...

This is so beautiful and moving.


dlyn said...

Just stopped by to wish you guys blessings this holiday. You are often in my thoughts and prayers - more so today I guess because I am giving away a Selah Christmas album on my blog. My favorite Christmas music :)

The photos are stunning!

Ang said...

I hope you get this.It's 2 in the morning and I am sure you asking 'what are you doing still up at 2?" well I have been reading your blog for some time now but had never really been able to 'finish' it until tonight. My youngest is sick with a fever so i am up keeping an eye on her so what better tme to catch up on reading. I just wanted to tell you sorry I was for your loss of your precious son Luke! It's amazing how things tie together, as I read, you made mention of audreycaroline in one of your posts and THEN did I make 'the connection'. I too follow her blog and remember reading about how they were having to go to the burial of Luke. Tears stream down my face as I type this and this post is not to make you sad but just know I will continue to pray for you family!! Thank you for your blog, it gave me the courage toda to post on mine where I had a miscarriage. thank you!!

Stephanie said...

gorgeous photos. A great place to get sweeping views to photograph Mt. Katahdin is on I-95 about about mile marker 250, where there is a scenic turn-off going north. It is just a stellar view, and I've had the privilege of photographing it in both winter and spring. You won't catch me climbing it, though!

Merry Christmas to your family, Greg.

Anonymous said...

Your post reminds me of a few paragraphs in "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" by none other than the insightful C.S Lewis. It is simply written but very powerful. The children in the story are hearing about Aslan for the first time- the lion who represents Christ.

"Is- is he a man?" asked Lucy.

"Aslan a man!" said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion- THE lion, the great Lion."

"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he--quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."

"That you will, dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."

"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

"I'm longing to see him," said Peter, "even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point."

Thinking of your family during this difficult holiday season~

Lindsey's mom said...

Alaska is a wonderful place!! Thanks for sharing your words!!
Kathy in Alaska