A few weeks back my husband and I took a trip out to CA to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Normally Mr. Frugal, I was shocked we did anything more than a weekend away. But he played the deals and penny pinched for almost 2 years to surprise me with this trip to get away and be a kid-free couple again.
Over the course of 8 days, we toured much of Northern Central California, from mountains to valleys, to almond groves and cattle grazing, to untouched coastline and the Victorian townhouses of San Francisco. While it was great to experience the bustle of San Francisco once in my life time, what made me want to go back someday was the more scenic elements.
I’m one who’s always been drawn more to animals and nature than the busyness of city life. Nature’s peacefulness draws me to God. Somehow the trickling of a stream and the song of a bird pull me away from the chaos of our harried lives and back to a stillness and readiness to hear the quiet voice of our Lord.
The hardest part for me in California was navigating the twisting, turning mountain roadways. Any time we wanted to get into a State Park– Kings Canyon, National Sequoia, Big Sur– it always seemed to involve a lengthy card ride curving around mountain cliffs. I’d feel utter terror at these narrow roadways with no guard rail and close my eyes while my husband drove. My husband kept joking, “difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations,” and I’d roll my eyes. Then we’d arrive to heaven on earth.
Magnificent trees, thousands of years old. Jagged mountains scaling into the sky. Crystal blue waters lapping against the seashore while seals played nearby. How could you be in this space and not be in awe of God’s artistry?
I kept thinking how much God’s creation is a reflection of him. Is it majestic? Is it glorious and good for the soul? Yes. Yes. Yes. But is it safe? Most certainly not! Besides the danger of driving mountainside, there were constant reminders of rock slides, bear, rattle snakes, poison oak, scorpions and on and on. Was it worth it? Yes. But it wasn’t always safe.
This past Spring I attended a New Testament class at my church. During our study of the gospels, we looked at how the Bible actually describes Jesus, as opposed to how our culture tends to depict him. If you take a closer look at Jesus’ encounters with his disciples, with the crowds and with the religious leaders, you’ll see that he isn’t always pacifist Jesus. He’s not always warm and fuzzy. Jesus is gentle, but he is fierce. He feels compassion, but also anger. He is forgiving, but still stands for righteousness. He isn’t plastic Jesus. He’s multifaceted. He’s dynamic.
There is a famous C.S. Lewis quote from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in which the children in the story are asking Mr. Beaver about Aslan (who is allegorically Jesus).
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”
…”Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
What a perfect description of our God. He is love. He is forgiveness. He is mercy. But he is also justice. He is majesty. He is holiness.
Psalm 8: 3-4, 9—“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?…O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Being a follower of Christ isn’t always safe. He calls me out of my comfort and pushes me to grow, at times causing me to close my eyes in fear of the unknown and pray for God to lead me along. But it has always been worth it.
At the end of the first day of making the 2 hour drive into the Sierra Mountains my husband asked if I still wanted to go back the next day. He knew, with my fear of heights and slight anxiety, it had been a nerve wracking journey for me. I was quiet for a moment, contemplating my decision. Then I pictured the morning sunrise, clouds clinging tightly against the mountain with shades of purple and pink bleeding through. I saw the Giant Sequoias, towering above us until they seemed to disappear into the sky. And I could still smell the cedar that overtook the forests.
“I’m in,” I told him.
Because at the end of the day, it was so good.
“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and hills, fruit trees and cedars, wild animals and cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”
Just in case you wanted to see a few more photos.