We drove to the opposite end of the state this weekend and then down the coast highway. As I cruised along the windy road in the sleek, black rental car I felt like someone different. I could not possibly be fit to drive a vehicle loaded with all of those gadgets and comforts. But, this other person, the woman I was to be for three days, certainly could.
Most of the time, as you well know, my fears and difficulties overwhelm me. I feel inadequate and am full of anxiety. I am tormented by continual “what if’s?”
Something miraculous occurred within me this weekend though. As I stood before the vastness of the ocean, watching the waves break over the rocks with the rhythmic stirring of the waters, I witnessed the POWER of God.
His POWER created this. His POWER maintains this. His POWER created me. His POWER sustains me.
His artisan craftsmanship is breath taking. His scientific perfection is unreal. His attention to detail is mind boggling. And, He is paying attention to me, too.
I felt so small on that beach, like one of the broken shells at my feet. Yet, I felt privileged, too, because, as wondrous as that scene is, it doesn’t rank as high as I do being made in His own image.
Standing there at sunset I gained perspective.
We left the beach and quietly began our drive south, toward home. By late night my eyes burned. My children had collected sand, rocks, and sea shells in their buckets to bring home and savor the memory later. I felt that I’d collected sand, rocks, and sea shells in the pockets of my eyelids.
We stopped at a Super 8 right on the highway. The traffic of other travelers could be heard all night, but the short sleep was welcome and revived me to continue on as soon as the sun came up over the horizon.
My 4 year old daughter begged to stop again, to play on the beach again. My 6 year old son protested and pleaded to travel further south to visit Trees of Mystery. All he had asked for his 6th birthday was to go to Trees of Mystery, but I had neither the money nor the transportation to make it the mere 96 miles to that special Redwood forest.
Here we were though, in a rental car, driving along the beach and an hour away from the ancient giants. How could we pass up such an opportunity as this, to do those things we normally cannot do?
It was rushed, but I obliged both children.
They were delighted!
These children who at times seem overly emotional, who have a hard time concentrating, who can be obsessed with their own pain and fears, played in a carefree manner. They played like “normal” children–children who don’t know what it’s like to be beaten on the back with a spaghetti fork for sneezing while Daddy is talking, children who don’t know what it’s like to be choked for not eating quickly enough, children who have never had a guitar or a BB gun broken over their back for a messy bedroom. All evil was forgotten as they ran along the surf and wandered through the trees.
As you leave the trail at the edge of the forest, there is a cross section of a huge tree. There are markers along its rings, signifying the great events of history. They indicate the size of the tree at those occurrences. It was a good size tree at the signing of the Magna Carta, even bigger when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, and quite large by the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Major events spanning centuries all occurred within the lifetime of this gigantic tree.
Interestingly, Redwoods don’t have a tap root. Their roots are rather shallow, and the life of each tree truly is sustained by the life of the trees around it. The trees don’t compete for sunlight and water; they help each other obtain the necessary ingredients for living. One amazing tree in this particular section of the forest supports twelve other full size trees upon its branches; it looks like an enormous wooden candelabra.
The Native Americans from this area would not step foot in this forest. They believed spirits lived there and were fearful of its wonder.
You do get a sense of a Spirit in the Redwood forest, but It isn’t one to fear. It is one to revere. The Lord God created these colossal trees to live in perfect harmony with each other. He created them to be impervious to rot and pests, making them a perfect building material for the people who live nearby. I think He also created them to be a lesson to us. Their survival over thousands of years is not only because of their perfect suitability to their natural climate but also because of their interdependence.
Can we live this way? Can we choose to support the weight of each other’s burdens on our own shoulders? Can we tap into the lives of others, not to take from them but to help sustain their fragile being?
We came away from our trip with many things. We developed new friendships. We are relaxed. We brought home sand in our socks and in our ears. But, the greatest thing we brought home from this trip was a new perspective. Our God is truly greater than our problems. That is not a cliche. Sometimes it just takes standing silently in awe and wonder in the midst of His creation to truly understand that.