Zion Canyon in southern Utah stuns the visual senses. Spectacular cliff-and-canyon land-scapes, a wilderness full of the unexpected, unique geologic features, and an unusually diverse assemblage of plants and animals gave me a sense of shock and awe from the grandeur all-around me.
Canyon walls rise 3,000 feet out of the river bottom. Early pioneers saw the Great White Throne and the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the distinctive monoliths looking down into Godís handiwork and up into the heavens. The pioneers worshiped God in shock and awe at this magnificent wonder of creation, seeing the Bible come to life in the rugged features of the canyon.
The Virgin River formed the canyon over thousands of years. It is no wider than a small Creek, but itís force chiseled away the hard rock. From the rare western rains, the tiny river rages and rumbles down the canyon doing its work digging deeper and deeper. In the narrow walls of the upper canyon, flash floods crash and push any and everything in their way to the lower canyon. In ancient days, the debris dammed up the river and made a 200 feet deep lake that stood for 700 years.
As the river plowed deeper and deeper, it found softer stone. Like a pick-ax, it carved away the shale base causing the imposing Navaho sandstone walls laid down 170 million years ago to fall and crumble. Over time, the river swept the debris away and formed the wider part of the canyon where today stands the lodge that housed Joyce and I.
Geologists uncover sea fossils and land animals such as dinosaurs hidden for eons before the first man set foot into this sanctuary around 500AD. Catholic priests explored the area in 1776. The canyon remained anonymous, unknown but to a few, until a United States surveyor presented his impressive findings to President William Taft who declared it a National Monument in 1909 pre-serving it for future generations.
I find many similarities in the story of Zion Canyon and in our spiritual growth. Betrayals, losses, hurts, and pain pile on like the layers of sand. Time cements these troubles over our soul like lime and iron oxides cemented the ancient sand together making Navaho sandstone. Feelings lie hidden and buried beneath the rock covering our heart until God begins to dig away cutting through the bitterness, lack of forgiveness, anger, and isolation caused by years of sinful separation from Godís love and the love of his true Church.
Godís river of blood from the cross crashes and tumbles against the hard, crusted over heart slowly but surely penetrating deeper and deeper into the deep dark recesses where only His love and the love of His people can go.
Within the narrow walls, the flood of love carries away the debris of broken dreams, ruined relationships, and failure. His cleansing power pains us because without suffering, there is no gain. There is no growth. Pain makes us realize our utter dependence upon God. Like the mighty rock cliffs that fell-apart and collapsed, so our old way falls apart and collapses all around us. The old life dies. The new life begins our journey through the valleys and meadows, the steeps and the deserts ending in the Crystal Sea of heaven.
The President of the Universe, the Creator of all, declares us special, holy and worthy to be preserved for His pleasure for all eternity.
Into the will of Jesus, Deeper and deeper I go, Praying for grace to follow, Seeking His way to know; Bowing in full surrender Low at His blessed feet, Bidding Him take, break, and make me, Till I am molded and complete.
Let us bow in shock and awe at the creative, redemptive power of God and His grace revealed in His Son. He breaks us, makes us, and molds us by the river of life flooding into our rock-hardened hearts and forming us into his magnificent handiwork - Christ in us.
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