|Vacation provides a lot of life lessons. I guess when you do things that are outside of your normal routine, you’re bound to have new experiences. One lesson that stands out to me from our recent trip to Utah is life’s unpredictability. One of the most well-known hikes in Zion National Park is called the Narrows. The Narrows primarily involves hiking through the Virgin River at the bottom of a tall, narrow slot canyon over ten miles long. Since the hike is in a slot canyon, there’s always a need to keep an eye on the weather for the possibility of rain and flash floods. As it turns out, the night before we went to the Narrows, a severe thunderstorm passed through the area. Earlier that evening, the kids had gone swimming. It was pretty obvious that a storm was coming when the sky got dark and lightning began lighting up the sky in the distance (yes after giving the kids fair warning, we eventually got them out of the pool :)).|
That night, despite (or because of) the heat and 90 degree weather, we got wind, rain, hail, lightning, and thunder. It was wild! That’s how life is sometimes, uncertain, unpredictable where we don’t know what’s coming next. Of course, if you live in this area, you’re probably used to crazy weather patterns. But life, like the weather, can change unexpectedly. We experience this at times with the jobs we have, our relationships with family and friends, our health or finances, and most obviously with the global pandemic this past year. The book of Ecclesiastes speaks of this uncertainty. The repeated phrase “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” in Ecclesiastes 1:2 and other parts of the book warn us that life’s circumstances are uncertain and its rewards ultimately unsatisfying. But Solomon, in his wisdom, concludes that God is sovereign over all things and it is our duty to follow Him and His instructions for life.
The next morning we got up and the skies were bright and the weather was beautiful. So we went out to the Narrows. Now because of the storm the night before, the flash flood warning was extremely high. In fact, some of the park rangers stood along the trail warning everyone passing by not to go in for fear of grave consequences. Though it may not have been the wisest decision, we assessed the weather and the risk as best we could (as if we know anything), and decided it should be okay. Colson, Avery, and I hiked about two hours into the canyon before we turned around and came back out. While it was tiring and there was lots of slipping and falling, we had a great time and no flash floods! We were able to enjoy the river and the beauty of the canyon God created.
Because of the heightened risk, I think we were more vigilant about knowing where we were along the trail and where higher ground was. This was a good spiritual lesson. As we walk through the uncertainties of life, God is our higher ground. He is where we go when sin and life threaten to overrun us. Amen! Psalm 32:6-8 says “Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'” As a final sign of life’s unpredictability, my friend and his family, who also happened to be at Zion, hiked the Narrows the next day. As we were getting home from our trip, he texted me saying there were a couple of incidents at the Narrows that morning — not of floods but of rock slides. Apparently, there were no injuries but with all the concern about flash floods, nobody was probably thinking about rock slides. Again, in life’s uncertainty, let us give thanks for God’s promise of protection and guidance to us, spiritually and emotionally, if we put our trust in Him. God bless your week.