Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love is Breathtaking

Day 2/3 (because we didn't really do anything on day 2)

So spoiler alert: I used the analogy I was going to use in this post on my Bike Adventure blog because I just couldn't contain it.  Which BTW if you haven't gotten a chance to check out is behind this LINK, Alright, lets dive in.

NAU is a fairly beautiful campus. It's kind of a mix between Tucson and the Northwest. The campus buildings were nothing spectacular and the landscaping wasn't anything to ride home about, but it did have one characteristic that made it seem somewhat serene and peaceful. When you get up to the elevation of Flagstaff, the air just gets more crisp, and the mountains smile down at you. Not everyone is driving around. It's quite peaceful. Unfortunately, we didn't stay. We had to get to Utah. So after a considerably slow train that stalled our journey onto Route 66, we were back on the road.

I've done this drive before (that's an entirely different story that I will touch on). It's not the most scenic drive. Pretty much any drive through Navajo Nation leaves the risk of two things happening: falling asleep to boredom and never ending streets - or - breaking an axle or over heating on the horribly paved streets. Needless to say, I did my best to try and fall asleep along this part of the trip. When we did eventually get to Lake Powell, it wasn't much. We were probably the liveliest things happening to that lake. Best part? you may be asking. There is this HUGE boat ramp that had to have been a good quarter mile or more in length. Merry, Gollum, and Myself decided to run up that steep bad boy. Best and worst decision of my life.

We had mixed feelings about Kanab. I had broken down for 4 days there on my last trip trough Utah. I, personally, love it! The red rocks around the city are gorgeous and the town is very quaint. The rest of the guys found it eerily creepy.  Either way, we were there for the night. Tomorrow we had Zion National Park in our GPS (we didn't actually have GPS)

Zion National Park is gorgeous! Behind Crater Lake, it might be my distant second favorite. It is absolutely breathtaking. And i mean that in more than one way. To get into the park, there is a 1.1 mile tunnel. (on my biking blog, i said 3 or 4, but it totally felt that long when you are holding your breath). During tunnels, I would always try to hold my breath when I was a kid. I thought this would just be another boring, quick tunnel. Turns out, after a good 45 seconds to a minute, I was about to die. When the tunnel was built in 1930, it was the longest car tunnel in the United States. Would have been nice to know that before hand. But the light at the end of the tunnel eventually came, even though I failed at holding my breath. And beyond that peaking light of the tunnel laid of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

God's creation is absolutely astonishing. And like I've said before, it takes your breath away. He created such a beautiful creation for us to witness. From the colors of a sunset, to the smells of a flower; From the magnificent starscape, to the intricacy of the human eye, God is the master of beauty. When you get a chance to get out of the hustle and bustle of city life and take a hike through a beautiful landscape, you began to be reminded of all He has done. Coincidentally enough, that night I read Psalm 50 which reads:

The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.

Now I know it's a different Zion, but I thought that was so true! God is breathtaking! His love . . .

is breathtaking!

(all of the photos in this road trip story can be attributed to the skills of Chris Weber)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Love is Vast

Day 1: A calm, unblemished blue sky hung over us as we departed Phoenix up the inclined road of the I-17 toward Flagstaff. Seven men who came to be nicknamed Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippen, Gandalf, Legolas, and Gollum, crammed into a rustic gold, seven-seater minivan. What began as a distant idea was quickly taking form. 5 days of the open road lay ahead of them, traversing the national parks of southern Utah and Northern Arizona. What stories lay ahead of them they could only imagine. What vast lessons they would learn along the way could only be discovered.

Sometimes it’s easy to feel alone. Even when you are surrounded by 6 other people in a small van, it’s very easy to feel left out. This usually happens when my view of myself becomes much smaller than it should be. I begin to compare myself to others rather than to God and I always feel inadequate or out of place. Other times, I view myself to highly and feel better than the rest. When this happens it’s very important to get away, get back into the word and remember whom I should be comparing myself to, and whose eyes I should be viewing myself through.

We were there. Every step closer revealed an ever-growing gape in the earth’s crust. An ever-widening gap for which there is no bridge to cross. Words can’t really describe how vast that canyon is. I tried to visualize what a normal cliff would be like standing by itself and then placed that cliff into what I was seeing. There were 5 such cliffs layered into the canyon, each one more impressive then the one below it. Standing on the edge of a sheer rock face, I began feeling like a miniscule little ant compared to the immensity of what I was seeing. I can only imagine what an astronaut or the astronomers of Hubble must feel when they see the planet in it’s entirety, or zoom into a seemingly black spot in space and reveal thousands of galaxies. We are so tiny.

The Grand Canyon kind of reminds me of my inadequacy to Christ (except more impossible to traverse). I have built a chasm. On one side stands me, on the other stands God, in between, a vast canyon separating me from Him. There is no possible thing I can do to get to the other side. A hardened rock formation of bitterness, jealousy and loneliness makes up my cliff walls. Even on the car ride up, I could pinpoint various times I felt such emotions. I am the master canyon builder. But the Master Engineer stepped in and built a bridge across my crafted canyon in the form of His son on the cross. It reminds you exactly how vast God’s love really is, and how much our love falls incredibly short. Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, while we were yet in the process of widening and deepening our canyon. And that is freeing! It frees me from guilt and self-righteousness, from expecting others to be perfect. I can step back see the bridge He built across my canyon, and then look and see the many other bridges He has built for those around me.

Gandalf drove us back to Flagstaff that night with Pippen as his co-pilot. 4 more days of the driving still loomed over the trip. It had only been 12 hours. Tomorrow, the journey would take them into the state of Utah, into many more evidences of the type of love God has for us. Into day 2