Years ago I took one of those self-assessment tests. This particular test was intended to help you understand what to do or where you need to be to feel close to God; the idea is that once you know this about yourself you need to go and do that activity or be in that place – often and regularly. My assessment told me I hear God best when I am studying His Word and feel especially close to Him when I am out in nature.
This week I was able to combine both when I visited Zion National Park in Utah. Mukuntuweap, or Stand Straight Land, is the name given to this area by the Paiute Indian people.
As the sun was rising over the peaks of this Stand Straight Land, I turned to Psalms to help me praise the Lord…
“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.” Psalm 50
“May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who made the heaven and the earth.” Psalm 134
“The Lord will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 146
…and my favorite…
“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You; in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” Psalm 84:5
Later that same day, hiking the Kayenta Trail to the Lower Emerald Pool, I was brought to tears by the beauty of this place and how blessed I felt to see and experience a small part of it. Every few steps I had to stop and gaze at the surrounding rocks and landscape. Really that is what Zion is, just rocks, trees, tall rock walls, many rising straight up from the ground, and if you’ve seen one rock you’ve seen them all right?
But if Zion and places like it are not such a big deal, just bunches of old rocks, why do people travel from around the world to spend time here? There are places that are much more accessible, much easier to walk in. There are temperature controlled places so you are neither too hot or too cold. It is work to get to the spots with the breath-taking views and other people have already been there and done that so you could just look at their photos and YouTube videos and save yourself some time, money and effort.
I think a lot of people are like me; they long to be in a place where they can feel close to God and that place is in His creation. Not all of these people know that God is drawing them. Some will deny this reason. But something larger than ourselves draws us to see and personally experience beautiful places and the spend time outdoors. That “something larger” is God and now part of my heart remains on the highway to Zion, among the incredible and beautiful rocks of Stand Straight Land.
“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”