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“KNOWING GREATNESS WITHOUT SIGHT” – August 31

August 31, 2013

“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”  2 Timothy 2:7

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Washington, USA.Mount Rainer garners the coveted acclaim of being the most prominent peak in the continental United States.  On clear days, the mountain dominates the Seattle horizon and can be seen as far away as Portland, Oregon.  Climbers come from around the world to ascend to its summit.  The fact that Mount Rainier became the fifth national park attests to the reality that it is a very special place.

I had the opportunity to visit Mount Rainer National Park last week as part of a business trip for the National Park Service.  I had never been to the mountain so I was very excited about getting to behold its grandeur up close.  As I began my seven hour drive across eastern Oregon and south-central Washington, I anticipated a continual procession toward the Cascade Mountain Range, anchored by Mount Rainer.  That was not the experience of my travels.  I drove through valleys and over hills that were crafted by the semi-arid climate caused by a mountain range in the west that I could not see.Mt. Rainier reflected in Reflection lake I thought that I would surely get a view of the mountain by the time I reached Yakima, Washington.  I was once again disappointed by a western horizon obscured by clouds and the obstruction of trees and lesser hills.   My ascent of Mount Rainer began shortly after leaving Yakima.  The highway clung to the edge of canyons and pierced through thick forests.

As I navigated the southern edge of the National Park, I precariously tried to stay in my driving lane as I leaned forward, craning my neck to peak across the car’s passenger window in hopes of catching a glimpse of this magnificent mountain that I knew to be there.  I observed beautiful lakes, canyons, waterfalls, and forests but I never got a glimpse of Mount Rainer.

445My meeting with the National Park Service was on the slopes adjacent to Paradise Inn.  This is the starting point for many of the climbers, intent upon summiting.  A slight drizzle welcomed my entrance to the National Park.  I thought that I would see the mountain around every bend in the road as I continued to climb in elevation.  However, the thick groves of Douglas fir, hemlock and cedar towered above me.  These 200 foot giants block all views of the horizon as effectively as any urban avenue, flanked by skyscrapers.  I knew there was a mountain that was not far from me.  In fact, I was driving across its base but I could not see it.

288I figured that I would at last behold the great summit from the parking lot of Paradise Inn.  The giant Douglas fir were below me and I was beyond all lesser mountains so there would be nothing between me and the mountain.  I immediately looked up as I stepped from my car.  I was greeted with raindrops upon my face and a magnificent view of clouds.

I never saw the summit of Mount Rainer.  I hiked across many of the trails on the mount’s base but never beheld what I knew to be there.  I had to rely upon my reasoning to determine that there was a great peak occupying my entire view but still hidden from my eyes.  The deer that I shared the slopes with had no concept that they were treading across greatness.  The grouse, whooing in the underbrush, had no ability to reason beyond all the obstructions and understand that he was on the edge of magnificence.

Man is the only creature who has the ability to think beyond the senses and understand that there is more in this world than what we can perceive.  It takes thinking to have an understanding beyond what five sensory inputs can tell us.

God created us with the special ability to think.  Just like I was in the presence of a great peak, we are all constantly in the presence of the greatness and magnificence of our Creator.  Yet, we rarely get to see more than a glimpse of Him.  We are blinded by obstructions.  We are distracted by the immediacy of life’s demands.  He is obscured by the haze of our flesh.

Thankfully, God did not leave us in condition where we could never know of him.  He gave us the ability to think.  It is through this gift of thinking that God works beyond our senses to give us understanding.  Paul was confident that when Timothy gave time to meditation and contemplation in reflection upon what he was taught that the Lord would grant him insight and knowledge into the wisdom of the scriptures.

Faith is not mindless.

The Spirit informs our contemplation to grant us understanding of what is all around us but hidden from our senses.  We often expect God to reveal himself to us without doing our part – thinking.  Just like Timothy, we need to think about what we are told in the scriptures, which means we must spend time in the scriptures; meditating upon them, praying through them, and studying them.

Let’s spend more time with the Spirit; thinking over the gift that we have been given through divine inspiration.  I am confident that we will be amazed at the understanding  given of the spiritual world that we are trekking through but rarely see.

PRAYER: Lord, teach me to think.  Bless the time that I take to think about the things of the Spirit.  Reveal yourself to me in my times of contemplation and meditation.  Forgive me for neglecting and undervaluing the time that I spend with my thoughts devoted to You.  I know that I don’t do it as often or a faithfully as I should.  I need your help, Father.  Help me to set my mind wholly upon you.  I want to know you more.  I want to understand all that I cannot see.  Thank you for not leaving me to my senses.  Thank you for giving me the understanding and wisdom that can come only from You. I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

10 comments

  1. […] just returned from another business trip to Mount Rainer National Park. Unlike my last trip (Knowing Greatness without Sight), the skies were clear and I was able to behold clearly the mountain. I gazed upon the heights of […]


  2. I love seeing Mt Rainier when I’m in Seattle. My daughter lives just north of the city and I always feel blessed when I see the Mountain as I land at SeaTac. It isn’t always out…but I know it is there, even when I can’t see it. And I always look for it…great post! ~ Sheila


  3. Loved the post. As I have never been out that way, I look forward to a day when I can go and see it in person. Awesome prayer, Amen! 🙂


  4. We live in the Seattle area and had the same experience as you did at Paradise when we first moved here. We went and hiked the trails there never even realizing the mountain peak was really right there just behind the thick layer of clouds. We also didn’t realize the steep drops just a few feet off the paths we were on either. We just enjoyed the trail and actually being in the clouds (being from the mid-west we had never been that high before) We went back a few weeks later and were shocked at the stunning beauty and closeness of the mountain peak and a bit unnerved at the drops we had so casually walked near. You definitely need to go back. Loved your analogy to trusting and faith. Mt Rainier is a perfect example. We in Western Washington know it’s there even when we don’t see it for months on end. We also know of its beauty and majesty. That is only a taste of God’s glory. ( You must have been here Tues/Wed as those have been the only days the entire summer that Rainier hasn’t been “out”. — then again if it had been out, we wouldn’t have gotton such a great post from you!)


  5. What a great prayer and post. Beautiful.


  6. “we are all constantly in the presence of the greatness and magnificence of our Creator. Yet, we rarely get to see more than a glimpse of Him”

    So good! Thanks for sharing!


  7. Amen to your prayer! It’s one I need to pray each and every day. Hope you get to see Mt. Ranier some day in all of its splendor! It is absolutely an amazing creation by God!


  8. Excellent.


  9. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read your prayer: “Reveal yourself to me…Forgive me…Help me…I want to know you more.” Oh yes.

    Our daughter and her family live just south of Seattle. Mt. Rainier does indeed dominate the horizon–when it’s in view. If I remember correctly, clouds cover the peak more days out of the year than not. But! When the full grandeur is visible, the site is breath-taking.

    Perhaps God chooses to reveal great glimpses of his glory only infrequently, so we do not become immune to the grandeur.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, J.D!


  10. Thanks so much for this J.D. … and “amen” to your prayer… I am reminded of 2 Peter 1:3-9 🙂



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