I’d seen pictures of the Grand Canyon all my life in a variety of ways; in magazines, on calendars, screen savers, paintings, magnets, postcards, and more. So, when my family decided to visit there recently, I pretty much thought I knew what to expect. We arrived in the late afternoon when I first saw it.
This is the point in the story where I should tell you how amazed I was at it’s grandeur and majesty and how taken aback I was by seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. Only, that wasn’t how I felt.
As I stood there looking out at that vast chasm of natural wonder, I waited to be overwhelmed with emotion at the beauty of it all. But what I actually felt was…indifferent. I had seen the pictures and read the brochures and now I was standing before the real thing and yep, it’s what I expected. Big hole. Lots of rocks.
We left the park that evening and spent the night nearby. The next morning, we set out to spend the entire day at the Grand Canyon. This time, we went out to the far railings and walked a trail along the edge of the canyon. I began to notice some interesting details that caught me by surprise. The shades of the rock layers were subtly different from one another in color and texture. Some places at the bottom of the canyon were plentiful with trees while other areas were barren. There were sheer drop offs shoulder to shoulder with gradual declines along the rim. Even the skyline looked different depending on where I was standing. The wind howled fiercely at one lookout, and at another, it was perfectly still. There were crags, crevices, pillars, and buttes that varied in height, depth, and formation. The air was crisp and the gravel under my feet crunched when I walked.
I hadn’t seen any of these things in a postcard. I needed to experience the real thing before I could understand the enormity of where I was. I had looked at pictures and postcards and thought I knew what the Grand Canyon looked like. In reality, I had been so satisfied with replicas that I almost missed taking in the real thing. My heart began to view for the first time what my eyes thought they had already seen.
I do that with God’s love too. Some desires I pursue are less a reflection of God and more a cheap velvet painting that only has a passing resemblance to the real thing. I get so distracted by things that offer a reflection of His love, that I miss the blessing of what those things are meant to point to—the source of love Himself.
It wasn’t until I was in the presence of the Canyon itself that I could experience the fullness of what the pictures could never duplicate. The intimate details, the sounds, the colors, and the wind on my face crystallized the difference between a one dimensional image and the true depth and height of the Canyon itself.
I wonder how often I have missed taking in the majesty and glory of what God has created because I am satisfied with the cheap imitations in life that are readily available and vie for my attention. Have I been so busy looking at the gift shop for postcards that I am missing the actual thing?
Without recognizing the love of the Creator, even the Grand Canyon itself is really just a big hole. Lots of rocks.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians was, “that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
O Lord, make it so.
MELISSA MAIMONE brings encouragement to her audiences with a blend of insight, transparency, and theology. Affected by depression and anxiety from a young age, she shares with vulnerability (and plenty of humor!) that a hopeful, joyous life is possible no matter what your circumstance.