“After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God.” Revelation 19:1 CSB
My family and I have been on vacation for almost two weeks now, traveling from our home in southern California through Arizona and into Colorado. Along the way we’ve stopped at a whole host of beautiful locations, places I’m thankful to have visited because they remind me of God’s amazing creation and glory.
- We watched the sunset over the Grand Canyon, where the layers of ancient rock create a kaleidoscope of color so beautiful that no painter could ever improve upon it.
- We climbed ladders built into the sides of cliffs to walk through small cities carved from rock by Pueblo peoples long before European conquerors set foot in North America.
- We swam in pools of hot spring waters that can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
I marveled at every one of these remarkable sights, and at each one I recognized the strength, power, glory, and love of God, who created these natural wonders for His people. But the place I saw today quite literally took my breath away.
We’ve spent the last week in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado in a small town that is situated in the center of a box canyon. It would take less than an hour to walk through the town from end to end, and it is surrounded on all sides by towering mountains sparsely covered with pines and aspens. The nature of the box canyon and the sheer height of the mountain peaks give this place an other-worldly quality. Only the sounds of the Jeeps driving up the mountain trails remind me that it is indeed the 21st century.
The wonderful thing about these mountain trails is that each of them holds the potential to lead you somewhere that more popular parks and nature reserves can’t hold a candle to, and today we experienced that firsthand. Taking the precipitous highway leading away from Main Street we drove up a gravel road, climbing higher and higher until we reached a point where we could only continue on foot. With water, sunscreen, and hiking shoes we piled out of the car and walked only about two miles to the place we were looking for. We heard the dual waterfalls before we saw them, and as we got closer the sound of the roaring water prevented us from being able to hear each other speak. But we didn’t need to speak, nor did we want to.
While my husband and children took photos together on the hillside I quickly made my way higher, carefully climbing up to a place the trail didn’t lead. I was drawn to these waterfalls and would not be satisfied until I could climb to the top, smell the crisp air, and feel the water swirling around my feet. When I reached what seemed like the highest point I gingerly crossed the swift but shallow creek, the cold water rushing into my shoes. Pulling small branches and shrubs aside I scrambled up slightly higher until the waterfall flowed just below me. I sat down on a rocky outcropping next the water, breathless and exhilarated.
I met God there today, and as I sat on that rock He seemed much closer than at any other place on our trip. The Grand Canyon in Arizona and the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park reveal God’s glory to my eyes, but the waterfall and the climb up to it gave me a full-sensory way to experience Him. At the Grand Canyon we had to wait for other guests to finish their time at some vistas and contend with a tourist-based culture, only to see a beautiful canyon that we couldn’t hear or smell. At the cliff dwellings tour guides warned us not to touch the carved rock lest our natural bodily oils cause the rock itself to gradually deteriorate.
Here, at the top of the waterfall, I could see the movement of the crystal clear water, hear its power as it roared down, and feel its chill with my fingers and toes. I felt immersed in the presence of God and I quickly imagined what it will one day feel like to experience the true presence of God when I enter His kingdom. I thought of the heavenly celebration described in Revelation 19:1:
When I see God’s glory in nature, in the love of others, and in His Word, and when I stop long enough to reflect on it, my heart is full of thanks and praise for all He’s given me. Difficult situations seem more bearable with the knowledge that He has a home for me in heaven, and moments like our hike to the waterfalls fill me with anticipation for the day I’ll see His glory face to face. As we made our way back down the trail toward our car my husband said, “I know heaven’s going to be more beautiful than any place on earth, but this place is pretty hard to top.”
Knowing that I will someday know God face-to-face and will be able to experience His presence in a way much deeper than my earthly senses can allow, I can’t help but sing His praise.