My husband Paul and I just returned from a “bucket list” trip to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, AZ to celebrate our 35th anniversary. People from around the world make the journey to visit and explore these marvels of creation. We were amazed as we drove up… literally UP and UP from Phoenix to Williams. The vastly changing topography and increasing altitude were something in themselves. We even drove through a snowstorm! From 7000 feet we viewed the Grand Canyon and all of its splendor from day through a sunset tour.
We learned of its ancient people, flora and fauna, geology, and of course its conservation and preservation. At every vantage point we saw something new. It is true that you have to actually see this place with your own eyes. It is hard to describe to someone and photographs can only capture a small portion of the depth and breadth of the Grand Canyon. The colors change with the sunlight as you view high and low. How awesome is our God!
In Sedona, we drove throughout the Red Rock Country on our own. Taking our time as we viewed this amazing landscape we were reminded of God’s infinite power through the beauty in nature. Breath-taking. Our favorite spot was the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Built to a twin pinnacle spur, about 250 feet high jutting out a thousand foot rock wall, solid as the “Rock of Peter”, the building was completed in 1956. It took 25 years from the dream of the original donor, Marguerite Brunswig Staude, and after much research, to find the place and gain permission to build this beautiful chapel. People from many countries were there. Many entered the chapel to pray, as did we.
A quote from the benefactor, “When we consider that just as the soul inhabits a human frame, and the house is built to shelter that frame, it is the mission of the church to shelter and inspire both soul and body. It therefore should not be only be a monument to faith, but a spiritual fortress so charged with God, that it spurs mans’ spirit godward!”
In the bible, Psalms 120-134 formed a hymn book used by pilgrims going up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Booths. As a child I remember my father reading Psalm 121 to us before we left for vacation each summer. We tried to do the same with our children.
Psalm 121 A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
1 I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
7 The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. Psalms 121:1-8 (NLT)
As we traveled through the plains along the highway, the hills and mountains seemed small, grayish and distant. But as we drew closer to them we could see color and dimension and beauty as they towered above us. Sometimes our view of God is the same. He seems fuzzy and distant. God, our Father, beckons us to draw near and see Him in all of His splendor and majesty. We grow closer by reading His word, praying and building a relationship with Him.
The pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem often had a long hard journey to make. They planned and prepared but I’m sure they got weary. Reciting the psalms gave them encouragement and hope to continue on. We too can plan and prepare for life but often the twists and bumps in the road make it long and hard. No matter what troubles you may be experiencing today – look to the hills and remember the Creator of heaven and earth. Our God is bigger than any mountain and greater than any sea and yet He cares for each one of us. He is our help and strength for every step of the way.