On days brief and nights long,
the sun but a rare shows its light,
amidst this bleak landscape,
for once doth the sun show its glory,
the windswept trees glisten,
for there is One deserving of the dance,
amidst ice and cloud
the sun illuminates winter’s breathtaking beauty,
on days brief and nights long.
Oh God, most powerful, most high,
your ways are perfect and your plans marvelous,
your commandments strict and your love ample,
your grace flowing,
but my heart lies
for things that have not yet passed.
I look to you, Lord,
and I pray Father,
that I may be filled again
by grace that does not ebb,
love that does not stop,
and plans that never change,
Oh Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.
Hold on. I believe that a man once walked Israel 2,000 years ago, was born of a virgin, performed miracles, was crucified, arose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is coming back. That’s crazy–madness if you ask some people. However, I can live no other way. He demands my life, and promises of a better one to come. I cannot partially give him myself; it’s all or none. In the end will I be his friend or his enemy? Thinking about this the last six weeks has been absolutely terrifying, and reading Keep Going and parts of the Bible makes very clear my utter dependence on God. Looking back on my “Fair-Weather Christianity” post is rather frightening. But looking to Jesus gives me the most hope. It’s my “peace that surpasses all understanding” and Job-like faith that God’s wisdom is so much more greater than mine (Phil. 4:7). I encourage you all to really think deeply about the center of your faith this week. It’s a stark reality check on the only reality there is.
God speaks through his creation. I have no doubt about that. But I had an odd thought last week on June 11 when I was on the road to Grand Canyon. To my recollection, I have never heard God speak to me in a National Park. So the most beautiful places in the country deemed by man and made by God have been silent to me. In the past I have heard from the Lord on various occasions up at HoneyRock and the Paria Canyon right by my campsite. God threw a curveball on June 12, however. We started out early and drove to the east side of North Rim and did several short hikes. On a side note, I love the spruce-pine forests up there! That is something I never expected to see in Arizona. Anyway, some of the short hikes were Angel’s Window, which overlooks a tributary to the canyon, and Cape Royal, which overlooks the Colorado River. To my knowledge, this is the only place at North Rim where you can see the full scope of Grand Canyon. Here I was speechless. Visibility was unlimited (we could see mountains 70 miles south of us), and there was no way to perceive the depth or width of it. It really was sensory overload, and it brought me to tears to think that I was actually here, at one of the most known places in the world. All I could think of was my God is greater still, and that if this was something I was seeing on Earth, what is Heaven going to be like? That was my first encounter with God in a National Park. It made me think of the video I posted back on April 9. A peace came over me at Grand Canyon where all my other cares in the world were melted away in the desert sun and all I cared about was looking at the Creator, my Creator, and praising Him. I would even rank Grand Canyon above Glacier National Park, and that’s a bold statement for me.
God has answered every single one of our prayers this summer also, mine being that God will speak to me. That is my over-arching prayer for the summer that God will speak in the desert like he did with Moses, Jesus, David, Paul, and many others. That was a conviction that developed only on the way down when Mark talked about God’s work in the desert. Right then I knew the Holy Spirit would mold me once again. I want this child-like faith that Jesus desires from us, and I hope this summer in Utah will be transformational. Thanks for persevering through this, and I hope it reflects this week clearly.
“Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:6).
I’m in Utah (actually Arizona right now)! Not only is this a new state but a completely new region. The Southwest is like no other place I have been. I’m so used to lots of trees and rain, and Utah has none of those. Nevertheless, it’s beautiful. I love the skies and the red sandstones and the lizards. Mark Hansford (one of my roommates) and I are working as research assistants for David Wheatley (a grad student at the University of Utah) doing sedimentology of clastic sedimentary pipes in the Carmel Formation at the Utah-Arizona border. When David explained the process to us, I thought I had an understanding of what was going on until we entered the field and discovered all sorts of things that didn’t fit into the hypothesis. It’s still really fun, but it will take a lot of brain power to figure this out (I guess that’s why there’s still ongoing research). Anyway, still exciting and more updates to come.
Tonight I was convicted of how I live my life. In church we hear about the “fair-weather” Christians or the “Sunday” Christians. I have always tended to blow that off and think that it isn’t me. While I pray that I will never become that, I was convicted that following Christ is a daily pursuit. I was convicted of being a “Wheaton” Christian. Whenever I’m home on breaks, I find myself struggling to pick up my Bible, or even just pray. That same discipline I have at Wheaton must carry over into my every day life. Following Christ doesn’t come with the seasons, it’s a lifestyle. While that may not be so profound to some of you reading this, it was to me. I should be surprised at the paradox that is the Gospel! It makes no sense, but in that, it makes complete sense. I should be shocked and amazed every time I hear the gospel preached or every time I ponder the works of the Lord. I am thankful the Holy Spirit lives in me to convict and warn me of sin and deceit. I want my actions to reflect my desire to enter into the kingdom of God. As hard as I try to live up to the Law, I still finish last. Learning about the gospel is fascinating and a brain stretch. But whenever I am lacking assurance, all that I have to fall back on is that Jesus is my rock and my salvation. Therefore, I have no excuse for my Bible to sit closed on my desk or to put off praying until I’m scared again. With regard to the future, I still don’t know how my research assistantship plays into all of this, but God has a plan. “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20
With all the Facebook statuses and Tweets surfing the interwebs right now, I thought it would be alternative to blog about my last few days here at Wheaton. For the second year in a row it has been a massive relief to finish classes at the end of a challenging second semester. At the same time, that relief carries nostalgia. I know for the freshmen it is sad to leave the people you have lived with and befriended after 9 months of life together. But as a CLC and a sophomore, I have a unique experience that only 22 other people on campus share. Entering into this year, I was determined to stay committed to my floor, my CLC team, and especially my RA, Joe McGann <3. I think after a self-evaluation, I have done a good job with my goal; however, by no means were there enemies. First semester it was depression. After coming off a difficult but fulfilling summer at HoneyRock, (this reflects on thoughts of last week’s post) I didn’t believe God would be able to provide me another experience like that. Despite my ignorance, he did. I came to the realization that my commitment in people is what I needed. My faith was replenished and my doubt removed. Once I thought I had it all together in February, loss took its toll. But the community I had invested in ended up with the last word. The God-given encouragement they brought to me is what sustained me. April was the best time here by far because of consistent time with Jesus. (Funny how that works.) Although I am physically leaving my Wheaton community this summer, by no means am I dropping my commitment.
As a geology major hoping to pursue graduate school, it is important for me to have some research under my belt. Starting in January, I applied for four Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) and other GeoCorps positions in National Parks. All of them were no’s. This is my only summer to do research before Black Hills field camp next year and then graduation. The only other option was to work back home and take some classes. I enrolled for statistics at GVSU so that I could finish my math minor early, signed up for a Quaternary geology class in Springfield, IL, and was indifferent on a soil science class at Iowa State University. I even while that was progress, it wasn’t satisfying. I had thoroughly convinced myself I was living at home this summer until yesterday when I went to a talk with a Wheaton alumni about graduate schools and his thesis project (I will be anonymous with names). I went to it mostly because I hadn’t seen him in a year and I was interested in what he had to speak on. I was stunned when he then expressed a need for a research assistant or two for the summer. There you have it. He took me and another guy’s email down and told us that he would see us in June. So there you have it. I am a research assistant in Utah for the summer researching sedimentary pipes in southern Utah near the Arizona border!!! We will be mapping their location with a differential GPS, taking samples, and exploring for others! After trying so hard to make summer plans, God literally handed this to me. It is so cool to see how every small detail has fallen into place. So yeah, can’t wait for the summer!