We recently returned from a trip out west and we visited a number of the U. S. National Parks.  They all made indelible impressions upon us with their grandeur, their diversity, their colors, and their spectacular beauty.

One example of this is Bryce Canyon outside of Richfield, Utah.  At an elevation of 8,000 feet, it is a riveting place of fascinating geological formations, which are called “hoodoos”. 


The “hoodoos” are spires that reach way above the canyon floor.  At first glance, they appear as if they are giant orange-flavored snow cones. 


Some of the spires seem to be huge apartment buildings, even with balconies overlooking the terrain and with green trees growing on the “roof penthouse”.


Around the bend, toward the edge of the canyon, there were more spires, albeit somewhat shorter and they did not seem to be as carved as the other spires.  We were advised that this area was the “new” portion of the canyon.  In future years, these will be as incredible as the “hoodoos” that we had just seen, and they likely will be reduced to rubble.


As we stood looking at the new section, I pondered what storms these youngsters would have to endure in the future, what temperature extremes would come their way, if they would stand sentry over their aging counterparts.   And I thought of the stories that the mature “hoodoos” would tell them if they were able to do so. 

But, the reality is that all of this came in the millennia that created the canyon as we see it today and it was captured, in a nanosecond, by a digital camera.  The details of the canyon’s creation, the carving of the individual “hoodoos” and the struggle of the trees to find a place to grow are not part of the story told by the canyon in our pictures. 

In short, the canyon’s history was condensed into a split-second picture of serene beauty.

Often on our trip, the high desert terrain gave me a visual impression of what I supposed the people of God might have experienced in the wilderness.  We know that the people of God were in the wilderness for 40 years, but Scripture only tells us of what happened in the first two years of their wandering and then the narrative skips to the end when they arrive at the Promised Land.

Matthew Henry says this of the missing years:

The thirty-eight years, which after this they were away in the wilderness, were not the subject of the sacred history, for little to nothing is recorded of that which happened to them from the second year to the fortieth.  After they came out of Egypt, their time was perfectly trifled away, and was not worthy to be the subject of a history, but only of a tale that is told, for it was only to pass away time like telling stories, that they spend those years in the wilderness, all that while they were in the consuming, and another generation was in the rising.  The spending of our years is like the telling of a tale.  A past when it is past is like a tale when it is told.  Some of our years are as a pleasant story, others as a tragical one: most mixed, but all short and transient, that which was long in the doing may be told in a short time.

Psalm 90:9 says:

For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.

We know from personal experience that we can tell the tale of events in mere moments when the actual event took months or even years.  While we think we will live a long time, the reality is that in cosmic terms, our life is fleeting and, when it comes to an end, it is like a sigh.  Even the canyons of our national parks change with the years. 

But there is something that is, indeed, eternal and not fleeting.  Jesus said:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Matthew 24:35

Praise the Lord for His Word, the Holy Bible.  Praise the Lord for His steadfast love and mercy.  Praise the Lord for His wondrous works.  Praise the Lord!

Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love and Your sacrificial death on the cross to pay for the sins of Your people.  Thank You for Your Word and for preserving it so that we could learn of You and trust in Your Name for our salvation.


Have you ever watched children as the months of the year go by and November gives way to December?  It’s not the anticipated chill in the air that gets their childish juices flowing into excitement that is palpable when you enter their room.  It’s not, necessarily, the potential end-of-semester party that they can have if they successfully traverse their schoolwork obligations.


No, it is the anticipation of Christmas. The celebration of Christ’s birth and a time when presents are exchanged and wishes granted. Some families even have advent calendars where there are doors to open for each day of the month leading up to Christmas Day, with small surprises behind the doors for the children. The children count the days left and look eagerly at the calendar to see if, perhaps, THE day was closer than they thought when they went to bed the night before. Sometimes my grandchildren can hardly stand up without jumping from foot to foot in excitement. Such is the challenge of watching and waiting.


At our house, however, we don’t have to wait for Christmas to see an illustration of watching and waiting. We see it multiple times a day when our little MinPin Snickers sits at the window looking out at either the front or the back yard. The window or shade does not have to be open much, just enough to let her get a glimpse of the yard.


Snickers on the lookout
Snickers sitting on her crate while looking out the window into the front yard.


She watches for the birds, squirrels, occasional cat, whatever enters her domain challenging her security and sanctity. Now, she is not all that much bigger than the squirrels or cat, and we have had some hawks that would think she was the appetizer for their luncheon. But, she is unaware of that.

Snickers on alert sitting down
Snickers sitting at the bedroom window looking out into the backyard.


She sits, literally by the hour, and watches out the window. Changing position, looking out the window wherever she can get a glimpse, standing sometimes, sitting often, and wagging her tail in sheer enjoyment. Sometimes her sister, Cuddles, will sit and look out, but then Cuddles will run away and get to a toy. Not Snickers – it does not matter that she is the only one watching … she remains vigilant at her post.

Snickers on alert and standing
Snickers on alert as she spotted something in her backyard, If the threat continues, her next move is to run from room to room to get attention so she can get out into the yard!


When she sees something she is ready to spring, except there is the pesky window issue. But that is an issue for a blog on another day.


The issue here is her watching, patiently waiting and watching for something to happen.


We all have a hard time watching and waiting. We want things done promptly, perhaps even before we asked! We have instant on TVs; microwaves for instant food; single cup coffee brewers so we don’t have to wait for a full pot to brew; instant return on investments; instant information on our cell phones, ipods, computers … I don’t even know all the names of the digital electronic devices that are available today.


The point for our society is that we don’t want to wait. We want everything NOW. In fact, when our children were young there was a song with the refrain “I want it all and I want it now!” [Needless to say, that song was not one of my favorites!]


That is not the way of the Cross. Jesus said that His people are to watch and wait. For what are we watching and waiting? For His return. Matthew chapter 24 goes into great detail, but I have excerpted some pertinent verses:


As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” – Matthew 24:3

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:14

For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. – Matthew 24:27

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. – Matthew 24:30-31

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. – Matthew 24:36

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. – Matthew 24:42

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. – Matthew 24:44 [ESV]


While we are waiting and watching for His return, we are not to sit at the window and look out. Rather, we are to serve Him and witness for Him, spreading His gospel to those who don’t know Him. And, we are not to do this alone – He has promised His Spirit to be with us and to guide us into what to say and do.


After his death and resurrection, He appeared to the apostles and believers and told them that they should remain in Jerusalem and wait. They would receive power and then they should go out into the world in His Name. This discussion is recorded in Acts, chapter 1 and is excerpted here:

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” – Acts 1:4-5

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. – Acts 1:8-9 [ESV]


While the early Apostles and believers were following His instruction and were waiting for the promised power, the Holy Spirit came to them on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus fulfilled His promise from Acts 1. He will fulfil the promise in Matthew 24 too.


Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. – Matthew 24:35 [ESV]


Snickers provides an example in that she does not care if anyone else is standing with her as she watches the yard.  I pray that even if it is unpopular, we will follow Jesus’ command to wait and watch.  May we be vigilant at the post Jesus has assigned to us.


Waiting. Praying and working. Witnessing and testifying to what Jesus has done in our own lives. Always while we are watching for our Lord to return.


Father, help me to have the patience that little Snickers illustrates when she sits watching and waiting. Help me to be so aware that Jesus’ return could be at any moment that I will measure my life and activities with that in mind. Help me to remember that my home is with Jesus and I have been directed by Him to watch and wait for His promised return. May I live in anticipation of His return.