My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and make melody. Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp; I myself will awaken the dawn. I will confess you among the peoples, O LORD; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, and your glory over all the earth. Psalm 57:7–11
We did a lot of awakening the dawn on this road trip. Mostly it was to beat things like Los Angeles morning rush hour. But once we got up in the dark and turned right where everyone else turns left. And we found a silent space on the edge of the canyon and wrapped up in rugs and hammocks and sleeping bags and towels and waited, looking expectantly to the east.
And the big idea of the Grand Canyon is the grandeur thing. The heavens. The clouds. And the mile-deeply carved shapes reaching out in all directions for up to 18 miles across and for 277 miles long. And the millions of years etched by the finger of God.
And Manuel is the kind of kid who does sudokus on the plane. And reads the metal plaques in parks and asks questions from the volunteers at the Monterrey Cannery Row Aquarium. And wants to go to a modern art museum because the kid from Italy hasn’t really seen a modern art museum before. Just Michelangelo. And when he can’t sleep at night because it is kind of hot and muggy car camping on the beach he googlesearches the elephant seals that we saw on the beach and now we know that we saw only 20% of 15,000 seals flopped on the sand with big smiles because the rest of them were splashing in the surf looking for food. So of course we read every single map and descriptor and peered through all of the telescopes at the geography center. And man knows a lot. But mostly he knows that he just knows a tiny hair’s breadth of all that there is to know.
And I was expecting that the sunrise-waiting moment was going to be a silent reflection moment. But instead I told stories. That led one into another. Of dreams. And moments by the side of the road. And eyes that could see again. And legs that could walk again. And Manuel asked me a question, that he apologized for a lot before broaching it and said that it was a really strange question and that I didn’t have to answer it. He asked me, “What do you live for?”
And I remembered when the big fancy fashion photographer from Los Angeles asked the same question of a fourteen-year-old Nicole when he was trying to persuade her to move to New York City and become rich and famous. And she paused, and answered what she had learned from her grandpa.
To love God and enjoy Him forever. The chief end of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever.
And mostly I just know that I just know a tiny hair’s breadth of all that there is to know. And I don’t understand why sometimes God reaches in and heals in an instant. And sometimes He doesn’t. And I don’t understand why David, a man after God’s own heart, would slaughter entire villages of people that each one is an image-bearer. And then write a song that speaks to my soul and comforts me new every morning. And I grieve over His church that parses and squiggles underlines under certain words but not others and stacks with cement big fat walls that divide us rather than freely confessing we see but through a glass dimly. But I believe that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. And that my job is to join Him in the work of restoration in the midst of all this brokenness.
So my heart is firmly fixed.
Oh God, my heart is firmly fixed.
And as fill up my water bottle and head out into the rain-refreshed rising dawn on my bicycle, I pray.
Wake up, my spirit; awake.
I will confess You among the peoples, O LORD;
I will sing praise to You among the nations.
For Your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens,
And Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
May You be exalted, Your glory over all the earth.