Not so long ago, my husband and I were high in the sky, thousands of feet above the earth, speeding our way across the western United States, and as I often have on such a journey I looked down, past the clouds, and marveled. Sometime back we had left behind the lush green fields of the east, the checkerboards of fertility and the patchwork quilt with all those verdant shades of "green and growing". Below us now stretched miles of desert, brown and barren, no sign of life, scorched, daunting, ungenerous. I drew in my breath at the immensity of both the barren
land, and the thoughts that occurred. I thought how easy was my progress in a matter of minutes across such rough ungiving terrain, and how different it would be on the ground. How very different it would be with only a
primitive mode of transportation. I thought of the pioneers whose sacrifices and courage had been responsible for this country stretching from one ocean clear across the breadth of a great land to the ocean on the other side. And as I often have thought, I thought again that God must know what time to place His people in, for I cannot say I would have the courage they had.
What kind of people, I thought, did it take to wish to cross such desolate land? What on earth would drive a people to leave all that they had, to leave the promise of lush green country and embark on a journey through land of no promise at all? What type of motivation had hardened hearts in such concentrated effort that these people were willing to leave all behind them, taking only the lives most dear to them? How would it be to know full well they stood quite good chances of leaving even those behind in the desolate sun-scorched desert, to run the risk themselves of becoming nothing more than a pile of bleached bones to dot an immense landscape? What courage and faith must they have possessed to risk all they had, quite literally, including their very lives and the lives of those they loved the most, for a promise of something better on the other side.a promise they had never seen?
So high above all of this, it occurred to me that it seemed as though I could reach out my hand and sweep the daunting mountains from the path of anyone gazing up at them on the ground, with trepidation as they
contemplated crossing them. It seemed I could poke my fingers down deep in that desert sand and dig until water appeared at the surface, making an oasis for weary travelers. It seemed I could open my palm at the edge of that desert and gently pick up a family and then place them just as gently down on the other side, safe from the burning heat and isolation and dangers that desert proclaimed. Two things of course, were very wrong with that sort of fantastic thinking. One, I was over a hundred years later in time. But most of all, what I was feeling was merely an illusion and as far as mankind has come in ability to conquer the daunting aspects of earth by speeding in the clouds above it, there are things that are only in God's realm, and never to belong to mankind. I certainly could not truly
reach down and sweep aside any mountains or spread my fingers apart and span one side of a desert to the other. I was indulging in an impossible fantasy based on the illusion flight provides.
And that sort of fantasy is when the light bulb did indeed go off. What sort of people did it take to make such a
journey? Foolhardy? Impulsive? Perhaps, for some of them, this truly is the answer. There have always been, and will always be, those folks who leap first and think later. Desperate, willing to take any risk for any outcome, because any was better than what they had already faced? Perhaps, for some of them, this was truly the answer. There have always been, and will always be, those folks who have known such great adversity that they are dulled to risks, and reach only for an end to it, however it may work out. But for many, for perhaps most? I suspect it was faith. Those people never once were able to view the earth as I in my time could do. They could not look down on a desert and see it as a patch of barren earth that would be very shortly transversed and seemed so small from a bird's
eye view that one could simply sweep a casual hand across it. But I suspect, that they full well in their hearts realized that their God could do so, and that He who had designed this very awesome world could indeed smooth a path across mountains and deserts, and that the destiny of a nation lay in His hands. It is no small thing that on our coinage is the inscription "In God we trust". It was chosen by the people who knew how true those four words actually were. If our people had not trusted, they could not have done what they did.
All too easily, all too quickly, our plane conquered the land, and bounced to a halt on a runway. I felt a small pang of guilt realizing how easy this was for me and my time, and the sacrifices of those in the past that had made this very simple accomplishment possible for those of the future. All too easily my husband and I traversed more desert, more barren rough terrain speeding along a well-maintained highway. Because we knew there truly was no great danger, we could indulge in the luxury of marveling at the sights around us, the beautiful formations and colors. Because there was no anxiety in my heart, I could gaze around at what must be the ultimate of art galleries, with natural masterpieces of color and sculpture where ever I looked, a feast for the eyes to gaze upon, a song for a
heart to sing praise of. Because I had no fear, I gazed incredulously at the immensity and beauty of Grand Canyon. My thoughts? "Oh, if only we could pack all the agnostics and atheists into one great tour bus, and take them across the country, viewing all of these awesome and magnificent gifts! If only they saw this they would realize what love had to be at the source of a Hand that would give us such a gift! Surely there would be no one on earth who could proclaim there is no master plan, no ultimate of artists and creators, no God! For surely all of this shouts that indeed there is!"
And so it is, I am in my time. I can appreciate, I can look at the beauty and with the luxury of doing so in my more secure time, realize how great is the plan of our Creator, how wise, how loving in the gifts bestowed to us. But I also stand in admiration of the ones who crossed that desert that looked so small to me in the air, knowing that these hardy courageous folks of another time trusted in God with none of the securities I know in my own time. I do not know that I could have done as they did, and it is awesome to me. "In God we trust". Yes, I believe if ever those words are swept aside, if ever they are removed from our proclamations as a nation, the shame and tragedy of it would be a terrible thing. For that motto tells it all. It is, after all, the only reason we are as we are, we have what we have, that our nation stretches from one shining sea to the other, and our people have the freedom to admire the beauty of it. "One nation, under God". Truly we are, truly it is why and how we have survived and conquered, and if we can see this on the wings of a manmade bird in the air, it is beyond awesome and beyond imagination how in control of it all our Creator is.
Just a thought,
(Note: Afternoon Rocking messages are meant to be passed on, meant to be
shared...simply share as written without alterations...and in entirety.