Thursday, November 3, 2016

When Do You Feel Closest to God? by Frank Black


(F. Black – Nov. 2016)


            John Clayton has been with us and gives indisputable, specific, scientific evidence for a Creator God.  This information helps to absolutely confirm our faith and arms us to speak to others more authoritatively about the existence of our Almighty God. 

            But I want to ask you a personal question.  When do you feel closest to God?  - or feel His presence the most.  There is no ‘right’ answer here.  It’s personal with you.  Perhaps it’s seeing a child being born; during a worship service; witnessing something in Nature [God’s creation]; many other situations or events.  For me it’s seeing the magnificent Rocky Mountains.


            Romans 1:19-20 - “What may be known about God is plain to people, because God has made it plain to them.  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 men are without excuse.”

            Psalm 19:1-4  – “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”


            I was 24 years old, having just finished my 3rd year in medical school.  My brother-in-law, Jim Brantly, was graduating from medical school.  Jim’s father and my father-in-law, Kermit Brantly, generously paid our families’ way on a trip West as a graduation present – to the Rocky mountains and Yellowstone National Park.  We were in two cars – yours truly with Lou Ann and 18 month old Melanie in our trusty Volkswagen. I witnessed the supreme grandeur of the majestic Rocky Mountains for the first time.  I was awestruck. [In later years Colorado would become our families’ ‘vacation state’ – skiing, camping, and backpacking].  


            [As an aside; recently I was talking to Jill Wells, who had just returned from seeing the Rocky Mountains for the very first time.  Her eyes and voice reflected the joy and the wonder of seeing them.  [“like a small child in a candy store”]


            To me Nature [God’s creation] is a ‘reflection of God’; or as one author put it, Nature is “God’s echo”.  So, as I’ve made obvious, I feel closer to God in the mountains – where the beauty, quiet, solitude, majesty, vastness, and peace are ever present.


[My “God Place”]

Vallecito Lake is a few miles outside Durango, Colorado, and the trailhead in the San Juan Mountains leading up to Columbine Pass.  Every inch is fantasically beautiful as we climb some 3,000 feet up winding switchbacks among the glorious pines and aspens.  The beauty easily overcomes tired feet and muscles.  [I see the scene and smell the aroma even as I write.].   It’s an arduous climb to Columbine Pass.  You have to pay the price to get the reward. Just before getting to the tree line above which trees don’t grow, we cross over a roaring stream and climb a small embankment which conceals the best campsite of all campsites.  It’s not visible from the trail, and we discovered it by serendipity.  It’s flat there, which nicely accommodates our tents, and is surrounded by large pine trees, whose needles make for a soft ground cover.  Another small stream can be heard nearby as it cascades down and before joining the larger stream we crossed.  This is the nirvana of all campsites.  I hope you can ‘see it’.  From the campsite, as you look further up the mountain, the tree line is barely a quarter mile away.  Beyond that the trail continuously winds its way to the Pass at about 13,000 feet.  The Pass is a ‘notch’ between two mountains.  After crossing the Pass, the trail then leads down to Chicago Basin. 

The campsite is a welcome respite but only a prelude to the ultimate ecstatic experience of reaching the top of Columbine Pass.  This is where I feel the closest to God.   This very spot!  The beauty of His creation here is indescribable.  You have to experience it.  “...Be still and know that I am God….”   Just take it in.  At the Pass you feel on top of the world and can see the panorama of God’s vast phenomenal creation all around you [360 degrees]. 

I draw on this experience [and others from Nature] frequently. Why?  To feel that special closeness to God again; when I’m feeling ‘down’; when I need a positive thought; when any doubts about God creep in.  I hope you have some events or experiences you also draw on.  Your “spot” – that special memory.  If not, capture some special times or places and cement those in your memory to be called on when needed.     


            “Oh Lord my God; how Great thou art”