Sunday, November 11, 2007

Big Bend

My wife and I just returned from a four day camping/hiking trip to Big Bend National Park. It's one of the most remote NP's in the country, but it is absolutely breathtaking.
The concentration of diverse and mind-blowing geological features is truly remarkable. One of the moments that stands out for me (on a trip that was pretty much non-stop "oh wow, look over there!") was when we first looked across the valley from the Chisos Mountains to the ridge through which Santa Elena Canyon is cut by the Rio Grande [pictured above]. 1500 foot cliffs in a straight line rise up out of nowhere and run for miles north and south and in the middle is a huge gouge that looks, from a distance, like part of the cliffs have just caved in (That's the canyon). Think Argonath but without the statues. Anyway, one of my first reactions to such a vista was that it was so amazing that it looked fake. Have you ever looked at something in nature so cool that the only way you can process it is by categorizing it as "fake". Perhaps another way of putting it is surreal. Maybe you felt this way the first time you ever saw the Grand Canyon in person, at some point you almost have to ask yourself, "wow, is this really real?"

In his book "The Great Divorce", CS Lewis writes a fictional account of a man who journies from hell up to heaven in a bus. At one point he asks one of the heavenly dwellers if he can take a piece of fruit back with him. The answer he gets is no, but because "all of hell could not contain that apple, because the apple is real." In TGD, Lewis talks of heaven as that which is really and truly real, the ultimate reality, and hell is a grey place of fake-ness and unreality (although everyone there seems to think its real enough).
If I am unable to process the grandeur and majesty of earthly "glory", found, say in a beautiful canyon, because it is so real that I perceive it to be fake, how much more will I be unable to process the glory of God and heaven? Fake things are only shown to be what they are in the face of real things. If Lewis is right, and God is as real as it gets, then I am a fake, shown for what I am even in something as simple as a beautiful vista. And who would do anything for a fake? Maybe someone would do something nice for a good person, but not a fake. But God demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we were still fakers, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)

You know, i really did enjoy and find beauty in the vista, certainly on some leve for its own sake. But in revealing to me the invisible qualities of God (Rom 1:18) and my own shortcomings, I am now ever more grateful for His mercy and grace.

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