The week after graduating from college was a busy one. I had a second surgery on a finger I had broken the year before playing soccer. I shaved my head as an outward sign of my new life in Christ (sort of like baptism). And I went backpacking for five days in the Grand Canyon with three of the friends who had led me to Christ that year.
I had visited the Grand Canyon once before, but only the rim and it was summer. This time we went in May and planned to go all the way down to the Colorado River, over 5,000 feet below. There was snow on the ground when we arrived at the south rim, at an elevation of 7,000 feet, and there were no permits available for backpackers to descend the canyon. So we made camp in the snow and queued up the next morning for a permit.
When we reached the South Kaibab trailhead mid-day, the sun was shining, reflecting brightly off the snow, but the air temperature wasn’t more than 40oF (that’s about 4 oC for my Canadian family and friends). As we joined the throngs of day hikers, mule trippers, and backpackers on the narrow trail, it felt more like a California freeway than the Arizona wilderness. But with each step we took, descending deeper into the canyon, the temperature rose and the crowds turned back. By the time we reached the Tipoff, a dramatic overlook about 4.5 miles down the trail, we had descended over 3,000 feet in elevation, the temperature had increased by more than 30oF, and we were essentially alone.
In my B.C. life (before Christ), we would let out colorful expletives with beautiful vistas and celebrate reaching destinations with beers we had packed in with us. But our focus on this trip was to celebrate God’s wonderful creation and to give Him all the glory. As we would come around corners or over rises that would reveal new dramatic views, my friend Holly would howl out “Yes, Lord!” Pretty soon, all four of us were shouting “Yes, Lord!” every few minutes. Our neighbor hikers probably thought we were strange, but we didn’t care. The deeper into the Canyon we went, the higher our spirits soared, praising the Maker, crying out “Yes, Lord!”
King David, overcome with joy, often shouted out to the Lord in praise and worship.
Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him. The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations. He has remembered His love and His faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn – shout for joy before the Lord, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity. Psalm 98
Not only did King David cry out praises to the Lord, He invited us to do so as well, and even creation itself. In a manner entirely undignified for a mighty king, David danced and sang and shouted praises to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And he knew that the mute creation in its own way did the same. How much more fitting, then, is it for you and me to shout His praises?
Take-home point: God’s goodness should lead us to literally shout out “Yes, Lord!”, no matter who is listening.
Take-home verse: Psalm 98:4 (Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.)
Questions for thought
What response does nature elicit from you?
Do you automatically give God praise when you are blessed with a mountaintop view, a sunset, or a peaceful lake?
If natural beauty does not give you a sense of wonder and awe for the Creator, what is holding you back? How could you cultivate that attitude in your outdoor experiences?
Holy God, only you could create the earth with its rocks, trees, animals, and people. Only you could oversee such a vast universe of space, time, energy, matter, geology, chemistry, and biology. And yet you love us intimately. Who am I, Lord, that you should be mindful of me? I am eternally grateful. Amen.