“How lovely is your dwelling place, Oh Lord my God.”
This past week I was blessed to be in the mountains. Sitting on top of a mountain ridge, I felt once more the overwhelming presence of the Lord and marveled at His creation displayed before me. Those of you who’ve been walking with me know my favorite places are mountaintops. Walking the soft pathways through woodlands that have hardly been touched since God formed them, I steadily make my way up the hills, longing for the view that I know is at the top. Certainly, the Lord had great fun sculpting out these ridges and then clothing them with trees and an understory of saplings and wildflowers. And, of course, the occasional bear or snake. But we won’t dwell on the hazards amidst all the beauty.
Two places on my walks continue to live in my memory. I can close my eyes and find them. The most awesome view of the Smokies I have found is high in the mountains at 5,000 feet. The air is clear, crisp, if not chilly in the morning and evening, and you can see for miles. It struck me once more what pleasure the Lord must have had forming these ridgelines. The mountains do indeed look like waves of deep blue water. When the mist gathers in the valleys, you can only see the peaks of the mountains. I sat one morning for a good hour, watching the low-lying clouds in the valleys dissipate until I could once more see the outline of the farms below.
There is an amazing number of birds in these woods. An early walk presented us with more species of birds in two hours than I’ve ever seen here. I suspect the birds like the altitude also. I learned new calls and songs of several birds that don’t live in Piedmont. It was such a treat. Sitting on top of the ridge in a protected spot, with no one around, I felt as if I had just watched God take his fingers and sculpt the mountains, then fill them with life. I breathed in awe at what He did so many thousands of years ago. I can understand why the Cherokee Indians and the early settlers developed such a reverence for the land. Its immensity cannot be fully grasped. But that is what appeals to me. I love being overwhelmed with the vastness of our God and His creation.
It struck me that we were given an incredible job to tend His planet. Perhaps we all need an infusion of His majesty and creativity as a reminder of the enormity of what He gave us. We are to honor and respect that. It is not ours to use up but to preserve. Something we have fallen way short of doing. In her book, Wonder, Rachel Carson talks about instilling in children the wonder found in God’s creation. When kids grow up familiar with the immensity and complexity of God’s creation, they learn to care for it all as if it truly is their own. When we honor His creation, we bless Him. When we misuse it, we offend Him. Something to think about.
Being in the mountains makes me feel small but yet so much a part of His creation. God could have made the earth look all the same. But instead, He made it diverse, complex, and beautiful beyond words. Discovering places that inspire the awe of His work grounds me in Him the way few things do. I hope it does you also.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”
Psalm 84:1-4 NIV