One year ago, I sat on the edge of the Grand Canyon and smiled so hard my eyes squinted for the camera. There, I gaped at the magnificent sight before me and marveled at the endless layers of stone, sand, and minerals that formed the endless range of mountains inside the earth’s crust.
I was not alone. Thousands of people joined me along the edge of the canyon that day. Some had cameras in hand, but most simply stood and gazed over the canyon, as if paralyzed by wonder. (It became clear to me then why Americans chose the Grand Canyon as the 8th Wonder of the Modern World, according to a USA Today’s November 2006 study.)
Geology was one of my greatest hobbies as a child and teenager, next to reading. My “rock collection” was embarrassingly extensive. And although I didn’t become the Geologist or Archaeologist as planned in grade school, I still have a habit of bending over to study rocks in along the road or pouring over the latest new story of an archaeological dig.
You see, I’m a big picture person who likes to dive into the details to discover how pieces work together to make a whole. I believe this explains my love of pilgrimage (the thousands of steps that make up one destination), my job in communications (studying the ways in which others perceive truth or an idea) and it even explains my love of ensemble music (two, three, four, and even 8 voice parts coming together to form the sound of the angels).
This way of thinking took on a whole new perspective at the Grand Canyon.
There, I stood at what might as well be the greatest geological treasure of the world and could neither dig into the details or grasp the big picture. It was all I could do to pick my jaw up off the ground.
I found it paralyzing in the best kind of way.
How many little details must come together to make this place so spectacular? And how much bigger is the big picture than what my poor little eye can see?
The Grand Canyon challenged my vision and how I looked at the world right in front of me. There was no possible way I could take it all in with my human eye. The beauty extended beyond what I could fathom – the details, the “big picture.” Even my peripheral vision was limited. And although I could not see or understand the size of it all with my own two eyes, I simply trusted it was there – before me and below me.
Yes! Those massive mountain-like formations might be over a mile high and yet, unlike any other mountain range that invites us to look upwards, these “mountains” invite us to look beneath the surface.
That is where my eyes began to connect with my heart.
My vision at the Grand Canyon was challenged because it wasn’t about seeing the details or the bigger picture; it was about taking delight in a sight beyond my understanding. It was about seeing the story from a new perspective.
I beheld greatness and was satisfied with the unknown.
That statement is not something I can say for my life, and yet I think that’s the beauty the Grand Canyon continues to unfold for me to this day. My life is made up of hours, days, weeks, and years – layer upon layer of simple moments. It is tested by the fire of adversity, forged by the working of grace, and holds oh so many caverns of love to create a masterpiece that I cannot begin to see or understand. But God does. Because He is the Master behind those details. And He tries to show me the masterpiece of my life every day with a new, glorious view.
What if I could, right here and right now, behold the intricate layers of my own story and be satisfied with a lack of understanding?
What if I could trust that the unknown canyons and crevices before me will, one day, be filled with light?
What if I could take a moment and smile so hard my eyes squint for His camera?!
Simply put – what if I could believe that God loves me more than what my poor little human eye can perceive?
Dear friend, a whole year has passed since I stood in this place. And I am only now beginning to unpack what could be perhaps the most important question of all. I invite you into this quest with me. Let’s pray to know not the intricacies of how God loves us, but the simplicity of how MUCH God loves.
Because it’s so much grander than we can imagine.