For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In God’s hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains also belong to God.
The sea and the dry land belongs to God,
which God’s hands have formed.
(Adapted from Psalm 95:3-5)
There are moments and places in our lives that visually and viscerally proclaim God’s greatness beyond our personal existence. They are moments that speak to our spirits, loudly reminding us of majestic presence in the work of creation and nature – or what I will call ‘creation-scape.’ Having recently returned from 16 days in Iceland and Ireland, I was confronted by such a moment. I have returned with this deep sense of gratitude for having had the gift of pausing and traveling to corners of the globe unknown to me before. I am experiencing an affirmation of the beauty of the earth and how creation feeds our often weary souls.
To be honest, Iceland was our son Dakota’s idea – and since he was gifting us this trip, we graciously accepted “the stop” on the way to Ireland. Well Iceland was no ordinary “stop on the way to anywhere else.” Iceland was extraordinary – especially as we made our way through the southwest part of the country where we floated with icebergs as they made their way through a lagoon on their way to the North Atlantic Ocean. It was a calm day with a stillness in the air – the reflection of the lagoon clearly mirroring the whites, blues, and black combination of ice colors as they floated away from the glacier wall. We floated alongside them on a motorized rubber boat slowly weaving our way through the towering grandeur. The splendor of the glacier, the icebergs and the massive ocean that would ultimately receive the ice sculptures reminding us of our humble place in creation. I could visualize the hand of a great sculptor giving shape to the formation of shapes and colors around me.
And as if this was not enough – after a long day, the lights of the Aurora Borealis made themselves seen at midnight. There are no words for dancing lights in the sky – even when the colors are subdued. I stood in the cold for more than 90 minutes, afraid that I would miss something. I was mesmerized at their subtle movements. As many of you know, I have often described the light of Christ as being like that of the northern lights – uncontainable, dancing, whispering. I believe that to be truer today. Iceland became a vivid reminder of how God’s hands have given shape to a natural world around us. I am reminded to join the psalmist in affirmation of God’s hand in creation.
We did make it to Ireland and there too we experienced God’s extraordinary presence in creation. There is much I can say – but the highlight of that visit was walking the Cliffs of Moher – five miles of cliff paths some 400 – 700 feet above the Atlantic in western Ireland. The mountains physically look like something out of a Game of Thrones scene – a combination of beauty and eeriness. Formed some 300 millions years ago, the cliffs stand vertically on the ocean’s edge. One could not deny God’s presence as we walked the windy and winding path. We could see creation-scape perfection for miles, again becoming deeply aware of our own humanity and mortality before the majesty of the rock formations receiving the ocean waves.
Like many of you I often live a rhythm that does not always encourage me to take in the beauty around me. It is a rhythm that is often framed by to-do lists, meetings and other over-commitments. It’s a rhythm defined by discouraging weather patterns or newsfeed. It’s frankly a rhythm that can strip our souls from who we are called to be. It is good to pause and be reminded of what is far greater than any of us. It clearly does not need to happen in another country – but it is good to take quiet inventory of that which is God’s work in creation as part of our spiritual disciplines.
So I join the psalmist in proclaiming God’s greatness, leaving you with a song that speaks to the majesty and miracle of creation as an affirmation of faith and testimony to our creator. I first heard it at a concert in which Nicole Mullins sang – it has escorted me through the complex seasons of my life. I hope you enjoy it, but the words that speak powerfully are –
Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
Who told the ocean you can only come this far?
Who showed the moon where to hide ’til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?
Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
All of creation testify
This life within me cries
I know my Redeemer lives