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

 


Oct 12 2011

Three Missing Words

This past Sunday Pat O’Hara and I stopped by the visitor center at Acadia National Park. Along the path to the center there are a number of interpretive signs. One in particular caught my eye because it included my favorite saying by John Muir. (You can see a portion of the sign above.) As I read the quote I told Pat “There’s something missing.” For some reason the National Park Service chose to leave out the words “and pray in”. Those words belong where you see the “…”. Pat suggested we type the missing words and tape them on the sign. Perhaps we should have.

 

It does bother me that the the three words are missing. It bothers me because I feel just as strongly as John Muir did that the beauty of Creation is meant to lead us into communion with God. I feel that places of beauty are conducive to prayer. They certainly are for me.

This week as I have enjoyed the beauty of Acadia National Park I have found myself time and time again offering praise to my Creator for the wonders of nature. I have felt close to my Savior as I’ve walked the trails and stood upon the rocks overlooking the ocean. I have uttered the words “Thank you, Lord” countless times. Yesterday I spent some time at Otter Cove upon the recommendation of Rob. As I sat on the rocks I felt as though God were telling me that He was my Rock of refuge, my strong foundation, and the source of my strength. I was reminded that Christ is the “solid rock upon which I stand” and that “all other ground is sinking sand.” The beauty of Otter Cove ushered me into a sweet time of prayer.

There’s just something about natural places of beauty that move me spiritually, and I know I am not the only one. Muir was exactly right; we all need such places “to play in and pray in.” We need “places where nature
may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul.”
That is one reason why I am such a supporter of our national parks and wilderness areas. We need them not just to protect ecosystems, wildlife and unique geographical locations but so that we might have a place to retreat to–beautiful places where we can feel God’s nearness and pray.

I really don’t know why the National Park Service felt it necessary to remove the three words from Muir’s quote. Perhaps it was an effort to be “politically correct,” though I hardly think many, if any, would find the words offensive. Regardless, their omission did not lessen my inclination to pray in Acadia National Park and I would like to think that will be true for others as well.

–Chuck

 (I took the bottom two pictures yesterday at Otter Cove in Acadia National Park.)