Posts Tagged ‘Yosemite National Park’


“Say Ah” – Nov. 3

November 3, 2015

“Ah, Lord God!  It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too hard for you.”  Jeremiah 32:17

IMG_20151026_155920Upon September’s conclusion, I knew October’s difficulties.  The nature of my employment had conspired against me by scheduling five business trips in the span of four weeks.  I realize that, for some, this may have been business as usual.  However, six business trips constituted my annual total in years past.  I am not accustomed to this level of business travel.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should reveal the locations of my business travel before you commiserate too much with me.  I was working in the following National Parks:

Mount Rainer National Park
Death Valley National Park
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Muir Woods National Monument
Olympic National Park
Yosemite National Park

IMG_20151017_092150I can just feel the sympathy evaporating as this list is read.  It was rough duty but someone has to do it.  My only appeal for sympathy is that while I was traveling to beautiful locations it was for work.  My typical trip was a three day affair; flying to the Park on day one, conducting the project meeting on the following, and then returning on the third day.  These trips contained a lot of time in airports, planes, rental cars and hotels, albeit, in the context of a spectacular National Park.

IMG_20151017_092445I have found that it takes purposefulness to truly combat the busyness of business.  I endeavor to purposefully carve out time in each business trip to appreciate the particular locale of my trip, especially on trips to national parks, otherwise I will miss the spectacular.  It is easy to fly in, do the work, and fly out without ever looking up.  We can miss a lot of wonder in our diligent toil.

Therefore, I try to find a moment or two on each business trip to set aside my labor, look around me and say, “Ah, this is spectacular!”

I have realized my need to be purposeful in looking past myself so that I can appreciate the wonder of the world I live in, otherwise it doesn’t happen.  Beholding the glorious is one of the unique characteristics of being human.  There is no other creature who has this unique ability to appreciate the spectacular.  It is what we were made to do.

However, I often fail to regularly do what I was uniquely created for.  I get so consumed by my daily toils that I fail to look up and appreciate the world around me.

If I am failing to appreciate the world in which I am placed,
how can I truly appreciate the Creator of that world?

If I am failing to appreciate my Creator,
how can I truly trust him?

If I don’t truly trust Him,
how can I say that I have faith in Him?

Consider how Jeremiah may have come to his declaration of faith, “nothing is too hard for God”.

He beheld the heavens and the earth;
He praises the Creator, “Ah, Lord”;
He reasons that creation must have required great power through the outstretched arm of God;
He concludes in faith that if God can create the world around him then there is nothing too hard for him.

I don’t know if this is exactly how Jeremiah thought.  Although, this is how my faith often works.

My soul is most refreshed when I lay aside my preoccupations and simply behold His glory.
My faith is renewed through each exclamation of “Ah, Lord”.
My resolve is strengthened when reminded of my God who can do anything.

I believe that we all can grow in our trust that “nothing is too hard for God”, which means that we all can use more “Ah, Lord” moments.  Maybe, rather than trying to do more, we simply need to carve out 15 minutes a day to merely relax and enjoy the spectacular nature of our Creator.IMG_20151028_155019

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the spectacular world that we live in.   Thank you for putting on display your glory.  Thank you for creating me with the ability to praise you.  Forgive me for often failing to do what I have been uniquely created to do.  Lord, remind me, today, to look up.  Remind me to behold your glory, today.  Father, inform my theology through the appreciation of your creation.  Build my faith through all the “Ah” moments that you grant me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen



February 8, 2014

“And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.”  Mark 3:2

English: Yosemite Valley Tunnel View 2010

I was traveling for three of the five workdays this last week.  If you have to be away from home, traveling to Yosemite National Park is not a bad place for a business meeting.    A main conversational topic of our first day of meetings was the drought that California is currently enduring.  While that is bad for California, my co-worker and I planned to take advantage of the clear skies to behold the grandeur of Yosemite on the morning before we had to travel home.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with our sight-seeing endeavors.

English: Yosemite Valley in winter

I awoke to the drizzle of rain cascading from rooftops.  The prayers for moisture had been answered by a storm front that moved in while I slept in my hotel room.  When I peered from my window, I could not see more than 100 feet beyond the pane of glass.  A thick fog has settled upon the valley.  It was not going to be a good day for sight-seeing.

My co-worker and I had nothing better to do, so we went into Yosemite Valley despite the poor visibility.  The rain turned into snow as we made our way into Valley.  It was beautiful to see trees coated with snow in the spirit of Christmas.  However, that was not what we had come to see.  A canopy of clouds obscured the colossal glory of El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and all the other sites that loom above tiny observers in the valley below.

English: El Capitan in Yosemite National Park ...

We stood in one of the most beautiful places on earth but were blinded to the very manifestations that make Yosemite special.  We were blinded because we could not see above us.  I would never know what I was missing, if I had not been to Yosemite before.

I think  many people  stumble through life never knowing what they are missing.  We stand in the valley of our reality, believing only what our eyes can sense, oblivious to the grandeur that surrounds us.  We are continually surrounded by colossal glory but blinded to the miracles that make our lives truly special.

I know of no better example than the Pharisees who were trying to accuse Jesus.  Consider what Jesus was doing:

He was healing people.
He was instantaneously cleansing men of leprosy.
He was casting out demons.
He was causing paralytics to rise, pick up their beds, and walk home.
He was controlling storms.
He was making wine out of water.
He was creating food out of nothing.
He was restoring a withered hand.

Yosemite National Park overlooking the mountai...

Yet, the Pharisees were more concerned about when he was doing the miraculous rather than acknowledging what He was doing.  They refused to look up.  If they acknowledged what He was doing, then they would have to acknowledge who He was.  They were blinded by the hardness of their hearts.  They were experiencing the most spectacular events of all time but they were oblivious.  They were in the presence of the King of Kings, but could not recognize Him.

They were blinded by their religion. 

We all can become blinded by very good things.  The Pharisees valued the keeping of the law more than the fulfillment of the prophecies that were literally happening before their eyes. The law was a wonderful gift but it was never greater than the Giver.  We have been blessed by so many gifts from our heavenly Father.  All good things have the potential to lower our eyes into the valley when we should be looking up into the glorious.

May we never miss the colossal grandeur that continually surrounds us by being content with good things.  Let us always set our eyes on the Great.

PRAYER: Lord, Your Word is light to us. It is power and life.  It clears away all that blinds us.  Lord, let that light, that life, that power, that truth break upon the darkness of my heart.  Keep my eyes set upon you.  Whatever hardness of heart may be in me, let your light shine, may the light of the gospel, the glorious gospel, shine in and through my heart; softening me to see all that you are and the glorious that surrounds me   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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April 7, 2013

“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52

I have a large, brown coffee mug.  It is my favorite.  It comes straight from Yosemite National Park and has a big white bear on the side.  I don’t think the creators of this mug realize the level of perfection that they achieved in their creation.

My Coffee Mug 002I think that it might be the perfect coffee mug.

It has the perfect volume.  It is large enough without being too large.  My study is in our basement.  The coffee pot is not.  A mug that is too small will result in excessive trips to the unholy, pre-dawn surface.  A mug that is too large will waste coffee because the coffee at the bottom of the mug will lose its wonderful warmth before I get to it.  My coffee mug is the perfect balance between volume and heat loss.

It has the perfectly sized handle.  I can get a full, four-finger grip on this mug.  This is not a dainty, two-finger tea cup.  I always feel like I lose a couple credits on my man-card every time I have to sip from an undersized sissy cup.  This is no sissy cup.  My mug has some heft to it; I get a little bit of an arm workout when I undertake my morning brew and my masculinity is intact for at least a couple more hours.

My coffee mug is the perfect color.  The interior of my mug is white, which is the perfect color for the art of coffee alchemy; that mixing of pure white cream and deep black coffee into the exquisite blend of milk-chocolate colored goodness.  A white interior is essential so as not to interfere with the science of a true blend master.

My mug’s exterior is a dark brown, which is also the perfect color.  Dark brown is ideal because it masks unpleasant residues.  The transfer of coffee from mug to mouth relies upon the sip.  The sip relies upon the delicate seal between lips and rim.  This is not a consistently perfect seal.  The unfortunate result of periodic seal imperfections is a slight loss of wonderful coffee infused fluid down the exterior of the mug.  This can be very unappealing on a white mug.  A dark brown mug is perfect at hiding the unsightly indicators of uncleanness.  I know that is a little gross but it is the truth.

As you can plainly see, I have the perfect coffee mug.

However, my affections for this coffee mug will be dashed if it fails in one vital aspect.  If my coffee mug were not to retain coffee then I would not love it.  This mug’s greatest value is realized when it is doing what it was made for; brimming with coffee.  A coffee mug that does not hold coffee is something other than a mug.  Some mugs are more ornamental so they might have another lesser use if they could not hold coffee.  My mug is large and brown, with a white silhouette of  a bear.  My wife has not pinned my mug as a decorating idea on Pinterest.

My mug’s value is associated with the fact that it can be filled.

God has made mankind with a unique capacity.  It is a capacity to be filled.  There is no other creature in God’s creation that was designed with this capacity.  God created us in a way that allows us to be filled by His own Spirit.  It is an amazing function when you consider it.  We were designed to be filled by the Spirit of God.

It is only when man is filled by the Spirit that he is able to reach his greatest purpose.  Man’s chief purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  That is only possible when he is filled with the Spirit.  Paul tells us in Romans 8 that we cannot please God if we are in the flesh and not in the Spirit.  The Spirit of God must dwell in us for us to live by the Spirit and please Him.  We must be filled with the Spirit of Christ.  It is only then that we can fulfill our greatest purpose.

The eternal value of the work of my life is directly associated with the fact that I am filled by the Spirit of Christ.

Those who seek meaning in this life apart from the indwelling Spirit of God are like a coffee mug that cannot hold coffee.  They cannot know true meaning and fulfillment because they are empty of what they were designed to contain – the Spirit of God.  They may be the perfect blend of form and function; ideal intellect, talent, and physical ability that come together to do one task extraordinarily well.  However, that task will always be secondary and of no eternal meaning because it is absent the essential ingredient of God.

Where are you seeking your meaning in this life?

We will only know true joy and satisfaction when we are brimming with the goodness of God’s wonderful Holy Spirit.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me your Spirit.  Thank you for giving us your Spirit to bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God.  Lord, fill me to the brim with your Spirit.  Make me overflow with the goodness that comes only from You.  Help me set my mind on you and the things of your Spirit.  May I glorify and enjoy You in all that I do for all of my days. . . Amen.

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