After taking my wife and sons across the country in an RV for 35 days, I wanted to express a lesson from our trip that defined it and helped add another dimension to living as we returned to normal life. We have a brilliantly created planet to enjoy. Being with my family in many of our nation’s national parks refreshed my sense of wonder and awe; we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). One of the themes from the trip that interested me is the early exploration of the American west and how a few brave people risked everything to explore and then live to tell the story. Many expeditions carried with them painters and photographers to capture, as best they could, the wonder of these rarely seen places. I love the story of a young painter named Dellenbaugh who spent a summer in the early 1900's in Zion Canyon in Utah. He worked at painting the landscapes he saw. When he began showing his work back in the art galleries of the east, no one believed the paintings depicted a real place. They thought he'd tried to paint a fantasy world. Ultimately though, the paintings of these wild places ignited a desire in many to go themselves and see in full what the paintings had conveyed in part. The artist's work had been to explore and then simply create a picture of what they saw.
For my life as a Christian, the work is similar. Explore the depths and heights of who God is and as His glory unfolds, try to capture it in a song or a word or an act of love. We share in hopes that those who see it will want to go there themselves and find the same wonder and beauty revealed to us. We might have a hard time convincing people at first, there will be skeptics and the cost of the exploration will be high but what we receive from the journey is worth it: joy for our own souls, knowing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19) and having a story to tell about how great and awesome He is; a story that other people will want to experience for themselves.
Poetry and Painting sublime and purify thought, by grasping the past, the present, and the future--they give the mind a foretaste of its immortality, and thus prepare it for performing an exalted part amid the realities of life.
Thomas Cole (American Painter), Essay on American Scenery 1836