Monday, July 16, 2012

Alaska--Take 1

I'm not a fan of wildlife, danger, adventure, or cold. 
I'm afraid of darkness, grizzly bears, ice-cold water, and isolation.
I'm the child that loves fences because I feel safe.
The riskiest thing I've ever done is marry my husband which I'm pretty sure qualifies me for a lifetime membership to the "living dangerously" club.  That's how I classify adventure.   
I had very little hope of being won over by Alaska's wilderness, but my husband asked me to come and like I always do, I submitted.  Ha.
My man assured me that he would not let a bear eat me unless...unless there was NO chance of my survival and then he'd save himself for the sake of our children.  Such comfort. 
I'll go...but I won't be moved.  I'm too cynical.  Too hard of a sell.  Too afraid.        
In fact, my stomach ached with anxiety the entire flight. 
I distracted myself by asking my Louisianan seat partners questions that I really didn't care about just so I could lose myself in their beautiful Southern drawl.  If I could have only forgotten for a moment that I was thousands of feet above ground in a steel bathtub then I could have really rested. 
My eyes drifted closed while my spirit protested that I needed to stay awake in case of what, I will not admit, but just in phone rested on my case...
The thrill of entering this great Northern frontier was completely lost on me as my plane forged through the darkness.

And then light began to appear in the distant horizon.  I checked my watch. 
It was nearing midnight and the light pierced it's way through the black sky. 
It seemed we were chasing the sun. 
My fretful heart grew quiet. 
I watched the sunset---not rise, but set---30,000 feet above this strange, tundra-laced ground in the wee hours of the morning. 
My hardened heart melted in anticipation of exploring this desolate land too far to the north for my liking. 
Dusk at 1:00 a.m.  This might be pretty cool. 
I got out my sunglasses.

Interior Alaska.   No coast, no whale-watching, no salmon fishing, no Arctic Circle, no nothing.  
What could we possibly see here?  Where's the touristy things?   I want the t-shirt. 
Enter Denali National Park.  Six million acres of protected land.
The home to the "Great One"--Mt. McKinley.  The highest peak in North America. 
There's only a 16% chance of seeing the whole mountain on any given day.  We weren't in that percent that got to see it.  In fact, we weren't even in the 30% that got to see part of the mountain.  Rich, dense clouds hid this majestic creation from our view.  We verbally begged the sun to push away the fog.  It would have been so incredibly easy for the sun to just do its job and show us the mountain.  Reveal, Sun, reveal.  Not on that day.  Mt. McKinley remained hidden. 
But God opened up His world to us in other ways. 

Six million acres.  And that's just Denali.   That's not counting the millions of acres of Alaska's lands that remain untouched simply because the conditions make human expansion difficult.  It's as if the Lord created such magnificent beauty in an arena that He knew our human hands wouldn't be able to easily touch.  Because if we could touch it, we would.  If we could build on it, we would.  If we somehow could be comfortable here, we would settle.   And we would forget that it was the beauty of the creation itself that had brought us here in the first place.

There's nothing here.  Nothing, but everything. 
Creation holds the conversation. 
Moose drink carelessly by ponds.  Rivers and streams wind their way aimlessly, braiding the land with glistening ripples of water.  White-capped mountains appear and disappear as the clouds rise and fall. 
The language of the silent places.  The quote was on the wall in the Denali Visitors Center.
Unaltered by man, Alaska's creation speaks---no shouts!--to all privileged enough to drink of its beauty.  
God's creation on display for all to see. 
It seems obvious---glaringly clear that some Mighty Hand was at work in the formation of this wondrous sight. 
A guide slipped in the words "adaptation," "tens of thousands of years old," and "Mother Nature."
Absent was the mention of God or Creator.    
I fought the explosion of protests that came bursting from my heart at the mere implication that somehow, someway, this magnificence was without a Master Designer.  
How can everyone not see?
God is shouting from every brilliant flower, wild animal, mountainous rock, and soaring bird and some don't hear Him? 
Animals play in the most fantastic playground ever created and we can't acknowledge a Creator?  
A 20,000 ft. mountain arises in this Alaskan front yard and somehow that's a product of chance?  
Mother bears fight for the protection of their babies and that's just an evolved instinct? 
How can anyone not see God here?
He's everywhere.  Everywhere. 
He whispers in the bubbling, glacier-fed stream.  He roars in the growl of the grizzly.  He sings from the mountains that rise up all around.  He smiles in the bright purple and yellow wildflowers painted on the tundra. 
The Rocks Cry Out. 
How could I not see my Creator here?  And how could I not believe in His great goodness and His great love. 
That's the conversation I heard in Denali National Park.  

And that's what we did.  We enjoyed a walk through time with God the Creator.  Our hearts drank as much beauty as our sinful hearts could hold.  We ran our hands through the silt-filled rivers.  We paused and gazed on a mama bear protecting her babies.  We squealed with excitement as moose trotted back and forth before us.  And we stopped.  We stopped hurrying, planning, and worrying long enough to just enjoy being with our Maker.  Look how I've spun the flowers of the fields.   And we studied the petals of a flower.   See how the wisps of clouds obey Me and decorate the sky.  And we saw a mountain-top peek from above the fog.  Watch how the caribou trust that I will feed them.  And we pondered the caribou feeding lazily on a bush.
Come Enjoy Me.     
The twenty-one hour days in an Alaskan summer open up the great frontier to all of us novice creation seekers.   God draws open the curtains and throws the light upon this spectacular land for a few short months before He slowly closes the curtains and turns out the lights.   Soon, this soul-stirring frontier will be blanketed with darkness and snow and only the determined will pursue its isolation.   

I argued for a brief moment with my husband that we should move up here.
Let's do something totally crazy and move to Alaska.
Apparently he doesn't really think I'm Alaskan material.  
Bitter cold winters.   Cars that need to be plugged in to keep the engine warm. 
Wind chill that freezes fingers instantly.
Barely lit days.   The sun hardly rises before it begins to set.  
Activities like snowmobiling and dogsledding. 
Okay.  Okay.   He knows me well and knows that with every mention of cold, darkness, and dogs that my excitement about moving up North would be completely extinguished.
I guess I'm really an Alaska in July sort of a girl. 

But God has used His creation to move me.  To stretch me.  To silence me.  To make me smaller and show me His grandeur.  To refresh me.  For one instant, I forgot my name and just longed for Him.  For that, I am deeply, soulfully, thankful. 

The plane is nearing my home.  My phone rests on my lap just in case.  My kids await and I'm so excited to see them.   And I can't wait to tell them about their God, the Creator.  His creation surrounds us and proclaims His existence every day.  It shouldn't have taken a trip to Alaska for me to love that part of my Lord.  But I'm very thankful that I got to see...
That I got to see the rocks cry out...    


  1. Alaska? Without kids? How did that happen? Sounds like a fantastic experience! I'd love to see some pictures :)