It was rather disappointing to drive into the Rocky Mountains the other week. You don’t hear that very often do you? It was overcast, with teaming rain and a thick cloud cover. We couldn’t see a thing.
We were in Calgary for the week to take in a church planting conference hosted by good friends of ours. It was so good to be there. It was a great time with friends, learning and encouragement.
It had been 11 years since I had been in Calgary. It felt really nice to be back. I used to be a Calgarian way back in the day, between the ages of 11-15. In a nice twist, we originally moved there so my parents could plant a church in the West end. So, it seemed fitting to be brought back for such a noble purpose.
Many people encouraged us to squeeze in a trip to Banff while we were out there. So we managed to arrange an extra day to do just that. The problem was every day we were in Calgary it was nice and sunny except of course the one day we could go to Banff and take in the majestic Rocky Mountains. On a nice day, heading west on the TransCanada Highway would be an experience. We would be transfixed on the looming landscape ahead until it slowly pulled us in as we traveled.
Not that day. Instead, we were painfully mocked by the big grey mass that hung over the mountain range like a wet beach towel. We had come so far and here we were, but there was nothing to see.
We thought about turning around and spending the day at an outlet mall, but even with the weather there was something special about being in the Mountains even if we could not see them.
It was worth the chance to catch a glimpse, just in the event the clouds part and reveal what is hidden behind.
We committed and pressed on through the rain. I suffered another kick in the pants, having to fork over $20 just to get into the National Park. It’s not free on rainy days. I asked.
As we drove up into the town of Banff we knew we were in the Rocky Mountains. We had been there before. Staring into the grey mass we knew we were surrounded. I still felt small.
As we made our way through the shops, we would occasionally catch a peak here and there, a shadow, an outline as the cloud cover shifted. Then, suddenly as we were coming out of our favourite coffee place that shall not be named, the sun pushed through. The clouds dissipated in spots and the Mountains stood majestically as if they were there the entire time. It was well worth it.
The sun did not stay out for long. The big grey mass recovered its lost ground once again, and the rains returned. But we had our moment, even if it was so short a time.
Not long after, I wanted to complain. I wanted to be annoyed. Of all the rotten luck! Yet, as we drove back down the highway towards the blue ribbon of sky over Calgary, my mind was nudged. I realized that this is exactly how many people feel trying to discover God. They head out to look. They go to where they think He is, or where they saw Him last or where others have said He is. Sometimes He is plain to see, but too often much like the grey blanket of cloud, He is mostly obscured by the dark cover of life all around us. This isn’t a new thing. Paul the Apostle recognized this struggle back in his day,
Now all we can see of God
is like a cloudy picture in a mirror.
Later we will see him face to face.
We don’t know everything,
but then we will,
just as God completely
understands us. (1 COR 13:12 CEV)
This may not actually be comforting for many, but rather be downright frustrating. We want to know Him. There is something coded into our hearts to drive us to want to see Him. We want to take it all in but yet He is covered so much of the time.
Even though the cloud covered the Rocky Mountains that day, it didn’t change or alter the reality that they surrounded us on every side. I got the feeling that this was the lesson I was supposed to take away from this soggy day. Even though I may not see Him or sense Him, God is all around. He surrounds me every day. And He cannot be moved.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you. (Isaiah 60:2 NIV)
It will not always be this way. There will be times of light and clarity. One day as Isaiah wrote, His activity will be clearly seen. In the meantime, let’s not stop seeking. Can we still look for His majesty to peek through the veil of distractions in life? If you look closely, you will see Him. It will be well worth it.