Archive for July, 2008


I was seated on a narrow walkway outside the small, 14 x 14 foot room that was the limited space inside the window enclosed fire lookout tower. The sun had finally descended below the horizon to the west and I was now staring into the distance to the east, watching the cloaks of darkness settle down upon the earth. This was our second night staying in the fire lookout. The appearance of the sky indicated that we would probably be unable to see the large moon during the coming night. Towering clouds surrounded us and as I watched I observed the first display of lightening, far to the south. In fact, it was at such a distance that I was unable to hear any thunder following the flash of light.

My thoughts were going a multitude of directions as I enjoyed the quiet, hearing only the occasional sound of a bird, the chatter of a squirrel, or the subdued conversation of my grandsons from inside the lookout. What an awesome scene of God’s creation all about me! I could see no man made light anywhere I was looking at the present. In the direction I was facing all I could see were the dark shapes of rugged mountains, the clouds and the increasing flashes of light to the south from the approaching thunder storm.

Suddenly, I heard a low, far off rumble. Aha! The storm clouds with their accompanying flashes of lightening must be moving closer. I could hear it now. When the next flash occurred I began counting the seconds until I heard the rumble that followed. It was still a long way off and now it was well past my bedtime.

I got out of my chair and walked to the other side of the lookout and stepped into the tiny living space. The three grandsons were already in their sleeping bags and my son was about to do the same. In minutes I had joined them and I lay looking out through the windows all around me. Flashes of lightening continued to move towards us from the south. I was unable to view the scene for long as sleep soon overcame me.

Crash! Wow! It seemed as if in the same instant I was wide awake, the inside of the lookout ablaze with bright light, and a crash and roar of thunder that was absolutely awesome! That storm had finally arrived. Within seconds there was another flash of light, a loud almost instantaneous crash and a long deep throaty rumble of thunder. Say, I can’t see how those grand kids could be sleeping though this. My son was awake and made a comment about the storm. I was thinking about our proximity to all the wild activity taking place outside the windows while hoping that this tiny building had an excellent system of lightening rods attached to it.

Over the course of the next several minutes there was one loud flash of light and crash of thunder after another. The storm seemed to be all around us. Sleep was gone. I felt as if I should cover my head with the sleeping bag but even then the bright light and thunder would make itself known. This display of nature’s power continued for several minutes and then I began to hear another sound. Oh, boy! Now we were going to catch it. Rain!

Did we ever, and did it ever! It rained, and hard. I began to wonder if the windows were tight enough to keep the deluge of water out as sheets of rain blasted the sides of the little cubicle we were in. And the rain continued as the storm seemed to enjoy leashing its power against our mountaintop bedroom. This was something else, let me tell you!

It seemed as if the storm battered us for a long period of time but, before I knew it, I was awakening again. This time it was not light and sound that awakened me. Morning was not far off. I peeked out of my sleeping bag and could see that it was beginning to get light in the east. Storm clouds still surrounded us but it appeared the lightning and thunder were far off to the north of us. The rain had stopped and we were still dry. I climbed out of the sleeping bag and realized that, even for late July, there was a real chill in the air. I stepped out onto the walkway of the lookout and breathed in air that was fresh, cleansed by the rain, and flavored with the scent of the trees and wildflowers growing at this high elevation. What a morning! And once more I marveled at all that God had created for me to enjoy.

I am reminded that, as Christians, we go through periods of time in our lives when we feel as if we are in the very midst of the wildest and harshest of “storms.” Most of the time we observe them from a distance, but there are those occasions when we are in the very midst of them. It also seems as if we are experiencing what some have called the “dark night of the soul.” We wish it would end. We want out of the storm. We want the night to end and the light of morning to bring us hope for a new day.

Well, hang on brother; don’t give up sister. Dawn will come. Sure! In Psalms 107, begining in verses 29 and 28, we are told that “He stilled the storm to a whisper; . . . . . They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” (NIV)

So remember, night will end and the storm will pass. Dawn is just ahead!

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There is nothing, for me at least, that can match the experience of being out in the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest enjoying the utter and absolute magnificance of God’s created world all about me. Far away from nearly anything man-made, it provides me with the opportunity to remember how powerful and awesome, how mighty the Creator of the universe really is.

I was seated outside a tiny 14 foot square Forest Service fire lookout in a rugged area of the Boise National Forest, gazing far into the distance, the only sound the voices of my grandsons in the background, the sound of a chipmunk chattering, and the occasional cries and calls of birds around me. The sun had been dropping towards the horizon back of me and as it descended further towards the west the deep canyons below be became darker. Even though the mountain tops and high ridges were still bathed in a soft and muted sunlight, that brightness had long been gone from the canyon depths around me.

I then remembered that, not long after the sun had stolen its light from this corner of the earth I presently occupied, a nearly full moon would be chasing it up over the horizon to the east and this mountaintop sanctuary would once again be saturated in light–a subdued, yet beautiful light in its own right. And by the time the moon was descending towards the western horizon a scant few hours from now, it would already be getting light in the east as the sun prepared for one more day of blessing God’s Creation with its warmth and light.

Except for the depths of those canyons around me. The amount of direct sunlight they received was limited. The amount of light provided for the moon was even less. So much of a 24-hour period in the bottom of those canyons were times of little light.

You know something? It reminds me of our journey through life with God. I realize we can’t always be on the mountain top. There are those occasions where, as we move forward in our walk with Him, where we find we have to cross through some valleys that are pretty deep and dark. But, if we are always on the move, if we are always looking up, if we refuse to stop or to turn back, the mountain top will always be there ahead of us, beckoning us forward, urging us towards that Light.

Friends, let’s not loiter in the valley. Let’s keep moving towards the mountain top. We can live with the hope that God will walk with us through the deep canyons and valleys, but it is on the mountaintop where we can truly behold His Glory. Keep climbing!

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