Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Grand Canyon + Waiting

In January my Dad took me on a trip to Oklahoma, Kansas (I think?), Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and all the way back through Texas to the very bottom we call home. I love roadtrips. And most of all, I love Vacation Dad. Vacation Dad is different from Normal Life Dad. Vacation Dad tells hilarious stories, doesn’t shave, and eats a lot of dessert. Normal Life Dad does these things sometimes, but Vacation Dad is all about it. He’s Normal Life Dad on crack. I inherited the adventure gene from my Dad. Adventures just make us more fully ourselves.

One of our many adventures on the trip was to the Grand Canyon. I had never been. Dad has been there once.

We arrive really late at night, after I failed as a navigator and took us an hour in the wrong direction. Woops. Thank God Vacation Dad mostly just laughed, bought another Monster and candy bar, and said not to tell my mom. We finally make it, and we’re driving through the Grand Canyon at pitch black midnight to our hotel, seeing nothing but the hope of tomorrow and all it will hold. They say the Grand Canyon takes your breath away, and I can’t wait to see the promise with my own eyes.

We’re up at the crack of dawn. A coffee for me, a Monster for him, and we’re in the car and on our way. The ground is covered powdery white snow. It’s magic. I’m enchanted. But then we make it to the Canyon’s edge.

We make it to the Canyon’s edge, and we can see nothing. When I say nothing…I mean absolutely nothing. The fog is so thick, we can hardly see five feet in front of us. It is unbelievably cold for this Texan/Ugandan girl, and only getting colder. Fashion is thrown out the window as I’m borrowing a big sweatshirt from my Dad and wearing some hat (ew) from the souvenir shop, gloves, leggings under my jeans…I look like a puffy mess with a red nose. But yolo. It’s the Grand Canyon, and I have hope that the fog will clear and we’ll see this apparently entrancing place. In the meantime, we go in the museum and watch a documentary about it. We greet the promise from afar through video, interviews, and photos. We sit and listen to people on the screen talking about how glorious the Grand Canyon is, how vast, how captivating. The movie ends, we walk outside, and still the fog remains. No Grand Canyon, and I’m starting to believe it’s not really there. My Dad assures me he’s been here before, he’s seen it with his own two eyes, and the haze will eventually clear.

For some reason, my Dad is not upset about all of this. Having travelled hundreds of miles to come to this place, to be so close, and there’s just a haze between us and the thing we dreamed of seeing. He’s not one bit discouraged.

My Dad spends the day leading me around the Grand Canyon, focusing on the good and beautiful things. Yes, the Canyon is twenty feet away and we can’t see it, but look what we can see. There’s a baby elk! Johnny Cash is on the radio and we know all the words! This is your first real winter; let’s throw snow, eat snow, sit in the snow, make snowmen and snow angels and let’s walk around in the snow making footprints everywhere! Here’s a hot apple cider! Look, a hippie grocery store (my Dad knows the way to my heart); let’s buy snacks and have a picnic in the snow! After a few hours of this, I begin to forget we are even missing the thing we came to see. I’m so intoxicated by adventure and my Dad’s joy, that I’m not all that upset about the fog anymore.

Sometimes you can drive around the Grand Canyon all day long, and not see it. You can be so close to the promise, but feel so far away. It’s so hazy you’re beginning to believe the Grand Canyon isn’t even there, probably just a fairy tale or a tourist trap. But hold fast to your Father’s hand. Hold fast. And let him lead you all around, showing you the beauty of powdery snow, baby elks, and drinks that warm your insides. Let him teach you joy and patience. Trust him. He’s gone before you, he’s seen it. He knows it’s here. You’ll just have to wait. 

What promise are you waiting on? What’s on the other side of the snowy haze?

We had an appointment the very next day in Phoenix. We had to leave.

But the Grand Canyon!

We drive in the opposite direction. Goodbye Grand Canyon. Woulda been nice to see you. 

Two days later my Dad says “Natalie, we can do whatever you want today!” Always a dangerous statement.

“…can we drive back to the Grand Canyon?”

Vacation Dad. Yep, I’ve got him wrapped around my finger. And we drive.

Hours later we arrive at the Canyon’s edge. Tears well up, and I breathe it all in. It’s even more beautiful than I could have imagined.

I see it! I see it! This long awaited glory, this hope, and it’s right before my eyes! My Dad was right, it really is here! And it’s better than those silly documentary people said it would be! It’s better than what I read online or heard about from the park rangers! It’s breathtaking and it’s indescribable and it’s mine. Today it’s mine. It’s mine to breathe in, and it’s mine to talk about, and it’s mine to taste and see and hold in my heart forever. And it was worth the wait. In fact, the wait made it better. Because in the waiting, I got to sing Johnny Cash with my dad. I got to see baby elk and their mama making footprints in the snow. I got to eat crunchy apples in the freezing cold with my Dad. I prayed for this moment. I actually prayed “God, PLEASE clear this haze! Let me see your beauty! Let me see your goodness!” And I did. I saw it in the fog with my Dad, and today I see it in the sunshine and the vast Canyon promise ahead. 

Sometimes you can drive around the Grand Canyon all day and never see it. You can walk all around the promise, the thing you came to see, but you see nothing except the joy on your Father’s face.

Will you choose to sit in the cold staring into the haze, thinking “Why can’t I just have what my Father promised me right now?” Or will you choose to rejoice in Him and all the joys He wants to show you?

Let’s faithfully learn to wait well.

I want to learn to wait like my father and my Father. Wait in joy, wait with eyes on the beauty.

That day wandering all around in the fog feels so small, compared to the immense joy of the moment when I actually I saw the Grand Canyon. It was well worth it. The waiting made the promise all the more sweet. We are here on this earth only for a second, before we’re in Heaven for eternity with Him. Heaven is a breath away. I want to wait well. I want to fight for joy in the haze of it all, and trust my Father that glory is just a step ahead.

Today one of the mamas from Jangu Omulise delivered a dead baby. Faith’s little girl was lifeless in her womb for two weeks before we met her. Sitting in this mama’s home and hearing her story did not feel close to Heaven. It did not feel like the world would be reconciled or light would overcome darkness today. The haze of this loss made goodness seem far away, and evil so near. But I trust my Father. He’s been here before. He knows that Glory is just ahead. He knows that He wasn’t lying when He said He’d come back for us and redeem it all to Himself. Heaven is just a breath away, and for now…for now He will lead Faith beside still waters and restore her soul. He will show her beauty on this side of the fog, and He will not let go.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. -Romans 8:18

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