Not A Spectator
It didn’t feel real. The clear mountain air in my face combined with the overwhelming enormity of the scene in front of me gave off an effect of disbelief. It was like standing in the middle of an epic movie or a hi-def nature documentary. This was a place I had seen hundreds of times through a screen and on a page, but nothing could prepare me for the vertical and horizontal immenseness here.
This is what it feels like to experience the Grand Canyon for the first time.
My friend Whitney and I were in the middle of a cross country road trip from Arkansas to northern California, and our route took us within ninety minutes of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Since neither of us had been to the Grand Canyon before, we had to stop and take it in. After driving for an hour and a half and paying the entrance fee, we parked the car and walked out to Mather Point.
Located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Mather Point is one of the popular places to view the canyon. It has paved sidewalks and information placards and safety rails. Hundreds of tourists from dozens of countries were there looking at the view and taking pictures in front of the iconic hole in the ground. It was very beautiful and very manufactured. I needed to get closer, to experience the majesty of the place without the artificial safety of the sidewalks.
We spotted a rocky crag a few hundred feet away. A short climb down from the paved pathways, it looked like the ideal vantage point to take in the Canyon the way it was meant to be experienced. I started to pick my way down, supporting my tentative steps by holding on to the small pine saplings in the rock around me.
That’s when I fell.
My left foot gave way and I skidded down the steep sloped towards the rocky platform below. Luckily, the fall was a short one and the landing didn’t hurt nearly as much as it could have. I looked down at my feet as I recovered my balance and saw the reason for my impromptu slide: I was wearing flip-flops, and one of them had broken. I decided that no footwear was better than broken footwear, so I took both sandals off and tried to avoid the sharper rocks as I moved out to the end of the overhang.
When finally made it to the natural overlook, it was worth every bit of the path down. Out on that ledge I encountered the Grand Canyon the way it was meant to be encountered. Without the guardrails, the vast beauty of the place had flavor of rawness and wildness and danger that was intoxicating. I had the urge to climb all the way down to the Colorado river at the bottom and explore every cave and outcropping along the way. This place was calling for someone to look it in the eye and overcome the primitive uncertainty it contained.
Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours to enjoy the scenery before we needed to get back on the road. But the experience I had in those few minutes has been the source of an object lesson from Holy Spirit for the last two weeks.
Here is what He’s been teaching me:
First, my shoes matter. I walked into an amazing but risky situation and almost paid the price for my casual approach. A good pair of hiking shoes would have reduced a moment of extreme danger to one of confident safety. The same is true in my spiritual life. When I walk into my day without strapping on “the peace that comes from the Good News,” it’s only a matter of time before I lose my footing. But when I stand on His peace, I’m unshakeable.
And second, I am not designed to be a spectator. God has designed a life for us that is absolutely amazing. I’ve found that it is one thing to hear stories about Jesus and the things He does and a completely different thing to step into them myself. It is one thing to observe the promises that are available to me and another to walk out of my comfort zone and live them. It’s so easy to be a spectator, but Jesus has given us the ability to “participate in the divine nature.” Do you have any idea what that means? We get to literally become God’s sons and daughters, with every blessing and privilege that Jesus has!
If that doesn’t take your breath away, maybe it’s time to put down the guide book and step into your life.
|Micah Hubbard is from Conway, Arkansas and recently traveled around the world for 11 months learning what it means to become Jesus with an amazing group called the World Race. He is currently an intern with G42 Leadership Academy in Mijas, Spain. Micah is 26 and passionate about working with the Holy Spirit to reshape what ‘church’ looks like in America. Check out his blog: Not Just For Prodigals|