Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Scenic Vista

This week we went camping at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is located in the western edge of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in south central Colorado.  I took the picture here while sitting at our campsite, looking east across the San Luis valley, with the San Juan mountains rising in the distance.

Looking at a map I would guess that it is about 40 miles from the park to the San Juans.  The first night of our trip I sat at our campfire and looked across that distance, seeing a thin line of lights appearing to spread across the base of the mountains, running as far as I could see from south to north.  And while I looked at those lights and the distance they covered, three things came to mind, in this order.

First was verse 1 from Psalm 19,

"The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."

While on the one hand that verse is pretty standard fare when we pay attention to the glory of God in creation, on the other hand it remains true whether we notice the work of God's hand or not.  Creation, every bit of it, large and small, declares the glory of God.

Second, that panoramic nighttime vista brought a thought from Job.  Yes, Job.  Job 1, specifically verses 6-7,

"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”"

Looking at the space it was easy to imagine Satan, wandering back and forth, looking for weaknesses to exploit in his battle with God.  And as I pondered that idea it was easy to imagine that at the moment Satan was having a measure of success, but that also there were people who have faith in the Lord God and were turning to Him to resist in whichever ways they were being tempted.

And that brought a third thought to mind, from Revelation 21, verses 1-4,

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”"

The world is a beautiful place but in God's story it is not our final home.  Satan is a powerful enemy of God and all who love Him, but his power is not unlimited and his defeat is certain.  And so as beautiful as my daytime and nighttime views were on our trip, God has something much more glorious in the works. 

A new heaven and a new earth, with Satan permanently defeated, and best of all, where God's children will behold His very presence, forever. 

To God be all the glory. Amen.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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