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.”
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.