The Grand Canyon from the Bottom Up: Creation and Counseling

July 24, 2014

The Grand Canyon from the Bottom Up--Creation and Counseling
Ernie Baker

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Ernie Baker

The Grand Canyon from the Bottom Up--Creation and Counseling

A few years ago I had the amazing privilege of visiting the Grand Canyon in a unique way. I had been there numerous times so what was different about this trip? Instead of looking down from the top, confined to a small section of the national park, I was able to see many miles of it up close and personal from the bottom up!

That’s right; I was able to raft 180 plus miles of the Colorado River going through 150 rapids. We spent a week in the bottom and many times we were so deep in the canyon we could not see the uppermost rim. It is a different world looking at this 200-mile-long gorge up close and personal from the bottom up. I was there with a number of other college and seminary profs to look at geologic evidences for catastrophe (there are many). This research trip’s focus was Genesis 6-9, looking at the evidences for a worldwide flood, but the Lord had additional purposes in store for me.

Soul Food

Those days were not only intellectually stimulating, but were also soothing for my soul. I was away from my normal routine; never ending emails (wouldn’t you like to declare an e-mail bankruptcy? I would), the regular counseling concerns for people, and grading.

It was refreshing to see waterfalls coming right out of the side of the canyon walls with 1000’s of feet of strata still above. We saw mule deer, big horn sheep and even a rattlesnake. There were so many big horns that it became routine and it even lost some of its exhilaration. Of course there were also the famous brilliant sunrises and sunsets with all their various hues and shadows reflecting off the multicolored desert tones of the mile deep strata.

But one element of nature stood out above the rest—the stars.

We camped each night in the open along the side of the river. This was one time I didn’t mind waking up because every time I rolled over on my cot I saw more stars than I ever had before and worship would just well up in my soul just as it did with David in Psalm 8. I thought:

“When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him”(Psalm 8:3-4, ESV).

David was overwhelmed by reflecting on the vast power of his God as he looked at the stars and so was I.  It is even more amazing to consider that He does care as many passages of Scripture affirm (e.g. Romans 8:28-39).

Creation and Counseling

My trip reinforced the contention that the natural world has many counseling applications and that it is a biblical counseling tool the Lord has given us that is often underutilized. In other words, He desires us to use creation as a tool to help our souls (and the souls of those to whom we minister) have the proper perspective on life. He desires us to meditate on creation to remind ourselves who He is which in turn ministers to our inner person.

This principle is firmly established by Scripture. And it is Scripture that gives us the proper lenses to even look at the natural world. It is only through Scripture that we can most accurately understand where this creation came from and how almighty the creator God truly is.

Scripture Makes This Connection

I have been intrigued by the numerous passages that directly connect the two (e.g. Psalm 8; Psalm 19; Psalm 33). My favorite is Isaiah 40. In this famous pivotal chapter the Lord is portrayed as the true God as opposed to idols. His mind-boggling power is exalted as the writer tells Judah that their Lord holds the waters in the palm of His hand (verse 12), and measures the heavens with the span of His hand (verse 12). A few verses later we are told that there is no one like him (verses 18, 25) and He names ALL the stars (verse 26). He then is declared as the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth who does not faint or grow weary (verse 28). So whether you look out at the oceans or up to the stars He is in control.

I don’t know about you, but my desperate soul needs those thoughts. Based upon these truths of who our Lord is then the end of the chapter gives verse after verse of direct counseling applications that minister to our inner persons.

For example, our God who holds the waters of the earth in the palm of His hand and can use His hand to measure the universe and name the stars of the universe, gives power to the faint (verse 29). He promises that those who “wait” for him (that is trust him) shall renew their strength. So by believing these things, rather than exhausting myself through anxiety, I can trust him and find refreshment (verse 31).

Implications

It is no mistake then that going on a church retreat in the mountains soothes the soul. Or, looking up at the stars and remembering that I can call the Creator of these stars my Father calms me down. He names the stars and He knows His sheep by name (John 10:3, 14). As we reflect on His glory, as revealed in creation (Psalm 19:1), we can grow in our awe of him. And our love for our Lord can grow as we consider that the creation is reflecting something of the personality of the Creator just as art reflects the artist. Of course, all of this stimulates worship and true worship is always healthy for the soul.

This theme makes me wonder if we are utilizing the tool of creation enough in our counseling ministries and in our own walks with the Lord. It also causes me to raise the question of the location of counseling. Does it all need to be in a formal setting in a building?

Well, I’m looking forward to going camping in the mountains in a few weeks and writing this has gotten me even more excited. I think I’ll go do some planning!

Join the Conversation

How could you use creation in your own walk with the Lord?

How could you use creation in ministry to others?

When was the last time you meditated on some aspect of creation and allowed your soul to worship because of it?