Oct 14 2012

A Strong Tower

 

“For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”  Psalm 61:3

A couple of days ago I had a chance to visit Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Even though I had been there before, the sight of Devils Tower rising from the earth still impressed me. From the pictures shown here some of you may recognize Devils Tower as the formation that was featured in the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It has, however, other claims to fame. This park was declared the first national monument in the United States in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. It is also considered a sacred place by many native Americans.  Some people come to Devils Tower not to view or photograph it but to climb it. 

The monolith known as Devils Tower rises 867 feet from its base and stands 1,267 feet above the river and 5,112 feet above sea level. I’m not sure how this great tower came to be known as “Devils Tower” but I know that seeing it made me think of someone else–the God who made it. Throughout the Scriptures God is often referred to as a “strong tower” or “place of refuge.”  Viewing Devils Tower I was reminded how God truly has been “a strong tower” in my life, as well as a place of refuge.

The world we live in is ever-changing and unpredictable. Sometimes we can feel afraid in the midst of life’s constant changes and uncertainties.  A lot of people live with anxiety because there doesn’t seem to be anything to hold on to, anything that is constant and unchanging, in our chaotic and turbulent world. I’m not sure there is anything we can hold on to help but I do know that there is Someone we can hold on to. In one of the great hymns we are reminded “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”  The contemporary chorus, “Shout to the Lord,” likewise refers to Christ as our “my comfort, my shelter,  tower of refuge and strength.” 

I truly do give thanks for the stability and security God brings to my life.  As strong and mighty as Devils Tower appears to be, it does not begin to compare with the strength and might of the One who made it.  Nor does one have to go to Wyoming to find the strong tower and refuge that is God. The Solid Rock is available wherever you are.  All you have to do is call out for Him and He is there.  That’s His promise, not mine, but I have discovered it is true.  I hope you have as well.

–Chuck

 


May 29 2011

Names and Places

This past Friday I got to spend an entire day photographing.  Although I was able to photograph a variety of subjects the day began and ended taking pictures of waterfalls.  It started with a beautiful waterfall called Creation Falls in the Red River Gorge National Geological Area.  It concluded at another pretty waterfall, Broken Leg Falls, in the Daniel Boone National Forest.  The two waterfalls are very different but both are quite scenic and made delightful photographic subjects. 

On my way home I kept thinking about how the two waterfalls were both lovely but that their very different names seemed to affect my experience and enjoyment while in their presence.  The name “Creation Falls” put me in a contemplative mood and made me mindful that Creation was putting on a show for me.  It made me mindful of the Creator’s presence and prompted words of praise and thanksgiving.

The name “Broken Leg Falls,” however, had a different affect on me.  I’m not exactly sure how this falls got its name but after taking the perilous trail down to the bottom to photograph it I think I have a clue.  This waterfall was delightful to behold but for some reason its name bothered me and dampened my mood.  I confess I have the same feeling whenever I visit Dog Slaughter Falls near Corbin, Kentucky.  Shakespeare may have believed that a rose by any other name would have smelled just as sweet but I’m not convinced that names don’t influence how we feel about things or experience them.

On visits out West I have photographed Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and Devil’s Canyon in Montana.  In both places I couldn’t help but wonder what the devil had to do with either one.  Both the tower and the canyon are majestic examples of God’s Creation and deserve better names.  Why do so many places have the “Devil” added to it?  (The only place I’ve thought it appropriate was the “Devil’s Golf Course” in Death Valley National Park. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.)

Names are very important. The Scriptures certainly back this up.  In biblical times place names and people’s names typically told a story.  Names also were more than what someone might call you.  Names represented one’s character.  In fact, in numerous cases when a person’s  character changed he received a new name.  Abram becomes Abraham.  Jacob becomes Israel.  Simon becomes Peter.  Saul becomes Paul.  Names make a difference.  They did then; they do now.

Obviously, I cannot change the name of places I feel deserve a better moniker.  I’d like to, but I cannot.  I guess this boy born half way between Possum Trot and Monkey’s Eyebrow will just have to accept that some of God’s wonders have gotten stuck with rotten names and try not to let it interfere with my enjoyment of those wonders.  It won’t be easy but I’m going to try.  Wish me luck…

–Chuck

(Top image: Creation Falls.  Bottom image: Broken Leg Falls.)