January 21, 2013

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet! - Thoughts on God and Yellowstone

For Christmas, our family was given a set of DVD documentaries called the National Parks Exploration Series – up close and personal looks at Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Badlands, and so on. We’ve not watched them all yet, but I have to say that the most impressive so far has been the feature on Yellowstone. The bears, elk, and bison; the mountain peaks; the lakes; the geysers (Old Faithful in particular); the Grand Prismatic spring; a waterfall that plummets farther, straight down, than Niagara – all of this, and more, seems to make Yellowstone a must-see for family fun and adventure, and for beholding the handiwork of God at some of its most breath-taking! Someday maybe we’ll load all the kids up and hit the road to see it all!

Well, actually … we won’t be able to see it all. In fact, one of the most poignant portions of the documentary was hearing a park ranger, whose career is dedicated to knowing and showing Yellowstone Park on a daily basis, say (I'm paraphrasing): ‘No matter how long I work here, every day holds new surprises. To me, that is the most wonderful thing about Yellowstone – the fact that it is too vast for me to ever fully see or know all its treasures.’

I found that to be a striking and moving statement – ‘I love the fact,’ she said, ‘that, try as I might, I will never know it all. The park is too grand and glorious!’ In a world that has oceans of information at its fingertips; in a culture where we seem to want (and be able) to know almost everything about almost anything … there are still some treasures so grand, so complex and varied, so majestic that even the experts cannot know everything there is to know about them!

Even more arresting, though, was that this particular expert finds a peculiar joy in the fact that she will never fully know it all! It pleases her to realize that, try as she might, she will never get her mind all the way around Yellowstone! She is not celebrating ignorance, you understand. Without doubt, this woman knows a great deal more about Yellowstone than 99.99% of the world – and she surely delights in knowing what she knows, and passing it along to park visitors! But what is even more delightful to her, she said, is realizing that this thing, this beauty, this glory which she knows so well is actually even more glorious than she could ever fully fathom! Her delight, in other words, is not in the fact that she doesn’t know certain of Yellowstone’s wonders, and can’t answer every question … but in the realization that she gets to go to work every day in a place whose wonders are too many to ever possibly see or count! She’ll never run out of new and thrilling discoveries to make!

And I simply make this corollary: If such wonder and amazement can be engendered by a forty by sixty mile stretch of wilderness in northwest Wyoming, how much more in the God who created that wilderness, and who, Himself, fills heaven and earth? God is like Yellowstone National Park – only on a larger-than-the-universe scale! We can never, in a million lifetimes, know all there is to know of Him! Yes, we ought to live and die trying. We ought to know more and more of Him with every passing year of reading His word and observing His world. But He is so grand, so finely contoured in His being and attributes, so majestic and complex and holy … we’ll never know it all! And, far from being disappointed with the fact that we will never master God, we delight in it! We will never grow bored of studying and knowing Him! Rather, we get to gaze, every day of our lives – and on into eternity – at a God, the many contours and colors of whose triune Person we will never finish tracing out! There will always be something more to see; something better to understand; something more delightful and majestic and thrilling than we first realized! In short, one of the greatest delights of spending a lifetime studying and knowing Him ought to be the enchanting realization, at the end of it all, that our God is so grand that (as they say), ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet!’


Laura McCoy said...

Well, Mama's been telling me and telling me to follow your blog, and I never seem to remember it when sitting here at my computer. I finally did and, as usual, she was right. I'll be following now regularly, and hopefully delighting alongside you in a God we can never fully know!

Kurt Strassner said...

Thanks, Laura. Glad to have you along! And sorry I did not get down to see you all last week. Say hello to Trey for me. Hope you all are well!