Then sings my soul!

About one week has passed since Dad and I returned home from the Grand Canyon. After an entire week of reflection, I am still amazed, still in awe by God’s beautiful creation, and am eternally grateful that God allowed Dad and me to take this journey together. Not only was the Grand Canyon spectacular and absolutely amazing itself, words and pictures alone cannot fully grasp the grandeur of it all, but probably the most breathtaking aspect of it was that God has brought Dad and me through so much and has allowed us to witness His creation together.

As we drove to the Grand Canyon National Park for the first time two weeks ago today, excitement increased as we got closer and closer to the Park entrance. Every 5-10 minutes, the inner-kid in my Dad was revealed as he asked me to look at our GPS and tell him how much longer until we reached the Canyon. 50 minutes, 45 minutes, 40 minutes, and so forth. Both of us were brimming with excitement.

When we finally reached the entrance, we became more and more anxious upon seeing parking lot after parking lot full to capacity. We even saw part of the canyon off in a distance as we were trying to find a parking place. Once we did, we got lost trying to find a trail leading us to the rim of the Canyon. Then finally, we made it. We were there. After so many trials in our lives, God finally brought us to one of His most beautiful masterpieces. Needless to say, I was in complete awe.

It has certainly been a long, rocky road that Dad and I have traversed to reach this point to where we could enjoy the amazing vastness of the Canyon. It doesn’t seem all that long ago when I sat in a small cubicle at Scott & White as I watched poison drip ever so slowly into my Dad’s tired body as he battled his second round with colon cancer. It wasn’t that long ago that I sat terrified as heroic nurses, to whom I will forever be grateful, responded to a violent reaction Dad had with his chemo treatment.

Going back even further, I remembered my own struggles with Crohn’s Disease. I still remember my sudden hospitalization and surgery in 2012, just one week before I was set to give the invocation at my high school graduation. I remember being in so much pain, yet Dad was there, waiting on me hand and foot as he constantly encouraged me while I feared missing my own high school graduation. Although I missed my baccalaureate service, Senior Awards, and Senior Trip, by the grace of an amazing Heavenly Father, I got out just one day before graduation practice. I still got to give the opening prayer.

While my battle with Crohn’s Disease continues to this very day, my faith has grown stronger as I have been encouraged by my family, my hometown, and by all the new friends I have made at UMHB. My faith grew even more, by leaps and bounds, as did my relationship with Dad, when he was diagnosed with cancer right before my sophomore year of college.

So many emotions filled my heart with agony and pain. There were nights when I cried myself to sleep. Somehow I wanted to be able to take Dad’s pain away. I wanted for at least one day to endure Dad’s pain so he wouldn’t have to. Yet I know like any father would, my Dad wouldn’t let me, and even though he was battling cancer and chemo treatments, he still had a smile, he still had those corny and sometimes morbid jokes, just to let me know that everything would work out according to God’s plan and that God was using my Dad for His glory in ways that only God could understand.

And so my faith in the Lord grew. Challenge after challenge, my Dad has never given up, even when he had plenty of reasons to do so. The Lord gave him strength, and Dad’s faith in God’s sovereignty in turn gave me the encouragement and strength I needed to face my own challenges. Christmas Eve 2013, Dad beat cancer. The following Spring Break, he finished chemo. In May 2014, he finally walked to receive his degree at UMHB. In the Fall of that year, he beat another painful illness. A year later, he battled cancer once again, only to be declared cancer-free in late-March of this year. And after multiple exams, he has finally met the necessary requirements to be a full-time Special Education teacher starting in just one week. It seems like every single time, God has been telling Dad and me that “Hey. Just wait. I’m not finished with you yet.”

Truly, God wasn’t finished with either one of us. Visiting the Grand Canyon became the very rich, yummy icing on the cake that was everything God helped us overcome. It’s like God was saying, “See. I told you so.”

And so, as I sat on the rocks overlooking the Canyon that first day, I wept. I wept tears of joy. I wept because God not only allowed us to overcome so many challenges together, but He also allowed us to do so in order that we might have the opportunity to enjoy what truly is a GRAND Canyon. When I sat there looking at the amazing depth and vastness of God’s creation, I sang to myself, in a quiet voice…

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, 
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; 
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, 
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art! 

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander, 
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing; 
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; 
That on a Cross, my burdens gladly bearing, 
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, 
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, 
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

I sat there at the rim, absolutely amazed, and as I looked at the never-ending depths of the Canyon, I couldn’t help but rejoice in how far God has brought us. Easy lives without trials were never promised to us, but if we trust God with our lives, there will be moments like these in which we can enjoy just how marvelous and powerful He is. It’s a reminder to me that He has a purpose for each of our lives.

Words in of itself cannot describe just how awesome the Grand Canyon is. Pictures can never help one grasp the vastness of the Canyon. And that’s part of the beauty of it all. How Great God truly is. When I consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. When I hear the rolling thunder, as there was thunder the second day of our visit. When through the woods and forest glades I wander as I walk along the pine trees alongside the trails leading to the rim of the Canyon. As I hear the birds sing sweet melodies and look down from mountain grandeur. When I feel the breeze and see the mighty Colorado River look so small from the top of the Canyon. When I take in all of this marvelous beauty, how can my soul not sing for joy!?

And as I looked at the wonder that is our Heavenly Father, I was constantly reminded by God that while He created all of the awesomeness that is the Grand Canyon, He sent His Son to die and conquer death for me, because I was His greatest creation. After the first two days, it was hard for me to imagine how much sweeter this vacation would turn out to be. Then on the third day, God was like, “Hey. Look what I can do!” The third morning of our time at the Grand Canyon, Dad and I left our hotel (which was about an hour away from the Park) at about 3:45 AM to see the sun rise over the Canyon, and it was well worth it!

If you ever travel to the Canyon yourself, seeing the sunrise is an absolute necessity. As we waited for the sun to emerge over the Canyon, Dad and I could hear people speaking in German, French, and Chinese, among other languages. Throughout our trip, we also heard Spanish, Dutch, Hindi, Middle Eastern languages, and so many others. The diversity of the thousands of people at the Canyon was also a great reminder of how awesome God is. It was a reminder that the magnificence of God’s creation can bring together people from across the world to enjoy His masterpieces. That too, represented the beauty of God.

There are so many other experiences I hope to share with others about our journey together. I love that the Grand Canyon is now a part of Dad’s and my testimony. The Grand Canyon is now part of my life’s story. It’s now a part of Dad’s life story.

This reminds me of one of my favorite verses in the Bible. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV) says, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

When we share our life’s story, we share both the Gospel of Christ as well as how He has made an impact in our lives. The Grand Canyon is a part of both Dad’s and my life’s story. And it truly is Grand!

♪♪Then sings my soul, My Saviour God to thee, How great Thou art, HOW GREAT THOU ART!!!♪♪

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Boberg, Carl. “How Great Thou Art.” Trans. Stuart K. Hine. Hollywood, CA. Manna Music, Inc. 1955.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.

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