Updated: Jan 18
After 10 months of working long hours and many late nights, I set out for a moment of rest with my 9-year-old daughter by my side. I hoped to spend time feasting on some of the wonders of God's creation that I had yet to see, but I couldn't have imagined the glory that lay ahead, or the grand finale God had planned.
When I'm out in nature, I often feel a greater sense of Jesus' nearness, power, and restorative presence. And, as we stood in awe of Mt. Saint Helen's volcanic blast, some 41 years after its initial eruption, we gawked at the story the charcoaled hills told from their clash with ash and lava. The soaring patches of evergreens that remained left the mind to wonder: "Who could possibly understand the depths of God's wisdom to create such a wonder?" ...
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?...For everything comes from him and exists by his power & is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
-Romans 11:33, 34, & 36 NLT
Another day’s adventure took us to South Whidbey Island, where the snowcapped Olympic Mountains were in view. They brought out the giddy, wonderstruck kid in me that uttered a hearty "wowzers" at every turn! I cringed the first time I heard it roll off my tongue, but then it seemed like the only appropriate descriptor for the expansive beauty before us.
The magnitude of God‘s greatness put on display made all the weighty matters in my heart feel rather small. ”If God holds the vast peaks and calm mountain waters, then surely He can handle all that arrests my heart!“ After all, He is the wonder-maker who’s wonders point us to the greatest wonder of all - Himself!”
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
-Job 12:7-9 NIV
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
-Romans 1:20 NIV
South Whidbey Island is known for its orca watching, and we waited for hours in the hopes of spotting one. Seals made their clumsy entrance, and an occasional sailboat peacefully drifted by. The pine-fresh air - everywhere - was like inhaling "restoration" if that were possible.
When the whales chose not to surface, we weren't too disappointed-we had already taken in more beauty than we planned for in one day.
The island had another attraction we could hardly wait to see: a beautiful community mural painted just a few months earlier by Jarvis Art Studios. Being the art junkie that my daughter is, this was a real treat...not only to visit such a large painting, but getting to be the girl painted in this piece was a gift.
While I was still trying to get my jaw off the ground from the natural wonders we were so blessed to catch sight of and the excitement I felt for this dreamy opportunity my daughter received, she began buzzing at the idea of heading to the Seattle Space Needle later that afternoon...
We drove our rental onto the "car" ferry-all while freaking out that our car was riding a boat! Bright-eyed and animated might accurately describe the emotions of the moment. "We've never done anything like this before!"
Upon arriving in Seattle, we continued this sweet adventure of enjoying God’s presence and making memories together...
Being the coffee lover that I am, I bored my daughter during a 40-minute wait to get into the first Starbucks store...
The art, culture, and food at the Pike's Place Market had my 9-year-old hooked, as she asked to return daily throughout the course of our trip...
The iconic flying fish were a highlight too...
The Grand Finale
Three days into this wonder of a very long weekend, we were gearing up for an exciting day trip to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. This would be the mother of all the sights we had planned to see and an incredible finale to a fantastic collision with God’s extraordinary creation!
That's when a massive storm decided to blow through; high alert for gale winds, mud slides, rain, and snow were all in the forecast.
Knowing that our plane would leave for home in just two short days, disappointment began to set in. "What a sour way to end such a glorious adventure."
Twelve hours passed and water continued to gush from the thick gray clouds above. With every tap of rain against our window seal, we were reminded of our dashed plans. In those moments, the Lord began to gently and lovingly remind me...
"The plans of the heart belong to man, but the reply of the tongue is from the LORD." -Proverbs 16:1 BSB
Almost in laughter at how quickly I had forgotten who holds the stars and yet holds my heart, I slowly began surrendering my agenda to an all-knowing God. In the quiet of our hotel room, God began unveiling the grand finale He had planned for us. And it could only be found in the beauty of His heart, rather than the glory of His handiwork!
Over the next day and a half, as I purposed to embrace the wonder and beauty of God's heart, He prompted me to finish reading a memoir I'd picked up in the Denver airport bookshop during our layover. Through the book and other insightful conversations that took place prior to our trip, He began piecing together vision and direction for the next season of endeavors back home.
He also gave me sweet moments of just - being - with my daughter. While constructing puzzle pieces, drawing, eating, and talking together, God showed me a small sliver of the way He lights up when His children spend dedicated time with Him. As intensely as I love my little 9 year old, it pales in comparison to God's love for His children. His love is inconceivable; some might even call it reckless. So reckless, in fact, that He gave His life as a ransom on a cross to pay for every wrong we ever committed, long before we even knew our need for Him (Romans 5:8). Oh, what an untamable passion He has for us! He is a jealous God and desires our time and attention (Exodus 20:5). Far more than the good gifts His hands can produce, He alone wants to be our greatest reward...
"I [God] am your shield, your very great reward. ” —Gen. 15:1 NIV
He guided me through rich times of Scripture reading, prayer, and loads of overdue rest. He reminded me that no matter where I am, whether in the midst of nature or in the confines of a small room, I can find Him in times of "rest" that are devoted to Him.
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.” —Exodus 20:8-10
Rest is a holy thing. Even though I've purposed to spend a day of rest dedicated to God each week for years, I've often missed finding more of what's on God's heart because of my "hurried" posture. When I consider how my 9-year-old would feel if I raced through our moments of talking and laughing together only to get to something "I regarded as more productive," I'm sure it would produce a great ache deep inside her.
Sadly, I'm convinced this is how God felt when I rushed Him to speak to me through Scripture during my devotional times, rushed Him to answer my questions, and so on? I'm certain of it. But, by His great grace and overwhelming lovingkindness, He led me to this place of solitude, where I was only met by His presence and my daughter's, in order for me to discover the grand finale I had been seeking all along—one that no vast mountain escape or sunset over the Pacific Ocean sky could ever compare to. Even in all of its majesty, nature's splendor is but a byproduct of the One who made it....
"For the heart of God, discovered in spaces of rest, is the greatest wonder of all!"
Rest for a moment & let the presence of God
sing over you as you listen to this song...
“Come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” —Jesus (Matthew 11:28 TPT)