Well, I’m here! There’s much to talk about already, but for now I’ll focus on the drive out (since I need to get up and be at the church by 7 AM tomorrow…). The drive was, simply put, fantastic. At least, it was once I got out of the Midwest. There is certainly a beauty to Iowa’s rolling hills of corn, as well as Nebraska’s flat expanses of pastureland, but growing up in the Midwest makes this all a bit too familiar. This familiarity ended almost the second I crossed over into Colorado. As if someone had flipped a switch, the scenery was converted to an empty, treeless hill country, quite beautiful in its own unusual way. Colorado is known, of course, for its Rockies and national forests and parks, enough so that one may be surprised to discover that the interstate route all the way from the Nebraska border to Denver includes none of these things—just empty, far-reaching, brownish colored hills.
Once you get to Denver, though, the mountains begin very abruptly, and before you know it you’re on winding highways overlooking deep valleys with snow-capped peaks looming up in the distance. The third day of the trip, from Denver to Cedar City UT, was by far the most memorable for this reason. White River National Park was a highlight, driving through rocky ravines close to the river with ‘Falling Rock’ signs everywhere and wire netting stretching up some of the cliff faces to keep everything where it belonged.
Best by far, I must say, was Utah. The denser Colorado Rockies (at least they were along I-70) gave way to these vast, stretching valleys with rocky peaks in the distance in every direction. Here I stopped a number of times at scenic overlooks, and I’ll be posting some of those pictures in the near future. Gradually the terrain became rockier, and the rock became redder and beautifully wind-formed and smooth. Then as I gained some elevation it became more like Colorado again (though it retained its wide-open spaces), and went from rock and scrub brush to coniferous forests growing at the feet of some truly impressive mountains (though not quite as tall as in Colorado). After turning south on I-15 in the middle of the state, I found myself driving through valley after valley dotted with towns and rich farmlands in the shadow of long mountain ranges hemming all of it in.
The fourth day contained some highlights as well, especially the brief part of the trip through the northwest corner of Arizona, through whose jagged mountains the route was carved, until I found myself in Nevada where the scenery became more desolate. The desert was quite beautiful, and (excepting the regrettable necessity of driving through Las Vegas) extremely enjoyable. (One side note- the most memorable thing about Vegas was driving past countless advertisements offering every kind of worldly pleasure imaginable, then after leaving the city seeing an advertisement board among the last of them that said, “After you die, you will meet God – Revelation 1:7” I’d like to shake the hands of whoever put that up…) Then into southern California, where I became acquainted with the true horror that is Los Angeles driving. After a few traffic jams, some mistakes in the route due to bad signage, and a few close calls with lane-changing demoniacs, I found myself in Newport Beach, at one of the most beautiful Anglican churches I’ve ever laid eyes on. But that’s for a future post.
While I was driving, I not only was listening to music on my ipod much of the way, but also enjoyed a sixteen-sermon series by Dr. S. Lewis Johnson on Colossians. There is something so fitting about adding the following scripture to the seeming infinitude of mountains and valleys and rivers and plains that I drove through:
Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col. 1:15-20)
To hear while driving through the Utah Rockies that “in him all things hold together” and that “all things were created through him and for him” is an experience to which mere words cannot do complete justice (nor to the experience of sitting down before such glorious vistas and reading Psalm 104, Job 38 &39, and especially Psalm 8). How vast, the world, and yet to consider that the entire universe of which this world is but an indescribably small part, is itself infinitely tiny in comparison with God. And it is even more staggering to think that the same Voice which causes the mountains to melt like wax and which breaks the cedars of Lebanon, the same voice which animates the spinning galaxies and upholds countless light years of celestial wonders, is the very same word that is at work within us, to call us into being as God’s people. Think on that for a while— as Spurgeon says, nothing will so enlarge the mind as thoughts of God.