What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (ESV)
The open spaces and seemingly infinite views of the American west provide us with many iconic landscapes that encapsulate our nation’s deep seated spirit of independence and freedom. Our recent trip to Canyonlands and Arches National Park fully met, and perhaps even exceeded, my expectations of amazing vistas and endless photo opportunities. I have yet to decide whether these places are a photographer’s dream or nightmare, as incredible scenes surround you every step you take along the trail. The real challenge is deciding what not to photograph!
As we would pause on our hikes to gaze out upon yet another magnificent panorama, I could not help but reflect on the vastness of the wilderness that lay before us, and ultimately my thoughts would turn to my own smallness in contrast to the infiniteness of our mighty God who created all of this. What is it about scenes like the one in this photograph that give us pause and lead us to great moments of reflection?
Beautiful places like this serve multiple purposes in God’s sovereign plan. On one hand they are simply a gift from God given for our enjoyment and relaxation. On the other hand, they are also intentionally designed to stir deep feelings within us. As the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, these feelings come from God, who “has put eternity into man’s heart.” God has made us in His own image, and part of that image is a mind that allows us to consider things beyond ourselves, beyond the physical horizons before us, beyond the moments in which we currently live, and eventually to things eternal.
And yet, while we may ponder the eternal, we will never have all the answers, in fact this passage tells us we “cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” We cannot know the mind of God, nor will we ever fully understand His ways, but thankfully he has given us hearts that desire eternity. Ultimately that longing we feel is a longing for God, a longing for a personal relationship with the Almighty Creator, Himself. In our fallen, sinful state, though, our desires lead us to pursue things other than God as we try to fill the void within us.
But praise God, because he has not only given us a desire for eternity, he has also given us a means to fulfill this desire! He has given us an amazing creation that points us to Him. He has given us his written word, the Bible, that tells us how to fulfill this desire. Above all He has given us the Living Word, His own Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who, through His perfect life, undeserved death, and glorious resurrection, gives us the only way to fulfill this desire and spend eternity with Him beyond our brief and tiny lives here in this world.
To God be the glory, forever and ever! Amen!
Yours in Christ,
Todd the Hiker
© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2015.