On a late June morning we fired up the bikes and rode out of Kalispell, Montana about 7:00 AM. It soon hit me that the day was a microcosm of life. I expected great things about Glacier National Park, but early indications didn’t encourage me. The chill of 51 degrees cut deep, even through our leathers and layers of clothing, and we had to endure 30 miles of mostly urban traffic before approaching the park. So far, the shivers from cold and the frustrations from traffic seemed like a typical day. Nothing awesome, just unpleasant conditions.
Then we entered Glacier. The first ten miles or so were straight and slow and serene as we skirted Lake McDonald. Evergreens provided a covered archway and limited the visibility, and I relaxed in the slowness. The frustrations of the earlier morning ride seeped away and I sensed God’s presence again invading my soul. Those conditions will do it almost every time.
Serenity soon ended, as Lake McDonald gave way to McDonald Creek and McDonald Falls. In my beloved Sierras, a creek at most maxes at 10 ft wide, and often only reaches 2. McDonald Creek was a river--trust me. A rope bridge spanned the stream just below the falls, and the “creek” was a 30 ft. wide torrent rushing over the rocks. The immense power of the falls reminded me of the power God used to create the world, and I began to rest easy.
Things changed more at The Loop. The earlier serenity transformed itself into fear as we maneuvered a sharp switchback and climbed a narrow road gouged into the side of a sheer cliff. The two-way road, with few side rails, seemed about 10 ft. wide with a long fall if you slid off. I couldn’t avoid that thought, thanks to a lot of earlier comments by Jerry, who’d ridden the road before. So I tended to stay close to the center line, which was impossible with some wide cars and trucks coming the opposite way. A classic Catch-22 situation. In the brief moments that I could take time to think, I remembered that God is so alien to us that he’s worthy of fear. Not just respect, but fear. I feared the road, though not as much as the divine.
Slowly, the fear gave way to awe. Not even the road could overpower the view of massive mountains, carefully carved with a fine knife. We’d risen above the source of a waterfall that not much earlier we had been below. Moses must have walked these mountains, striking every rock in sight. In one stretch of solid rock, maybe 150 ft. wide, two waterfalls tumbled as water gushed from every square foot of the rock. For some unknown reason, its name is the Weeping Wall. The Grinnell Glacier lay just two miles above us here. God utterly astounded me with his transcendence here.
On the return trip, half a dozen bighorn sheep played on the steep slope above. One in particular picked her way down with more grace than Michael Jordan soaring to the rim. Clearly, she was designed to do that, and she seemed to exult in it.
Serenity. Power. Fear. Awe. Grace. These are the morning devotions that best feed my soul.
KICK STARTING THE DISCUSSION
What best brings you closer to God so you can touch him? What works? What doesn’t?