By Rev. John Carlson
“If I lift up my eyes to the hills, where shall I find help?— Psalm 121
Help comes only from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and earth.”
Last fall my wife and I traveled to Alaska. The cruise of the Inside Passage had been on my bucket list for many years; it did not disappoint. But the highlight of our trip was our visit to Mt. Denali — “the Great One.”
The highest mountain in North America is usually shrouded in clouds and fog. Natives and tourist guides are fond of telling visitors that only 30% of the thousands of visitors there each year get to see the mountain. And after a couple of days traveling to get there, and most of another day in Denali National Park itself, we were beginning to be resigned to being among the 70% who never glimpse it.
Then late in the afternoon on the day we were traveling through the park, the clouds suddenly and unexpectedly broke, just as we approached the mountain, and we were treated to some very special views. The next day, as we were traveling by motor coach away from the park, again unexpectedly, the sky became crystal clear, and we saw the mountain in its full glory. The accompanying painting is one I painted from a photograph I took while we were pulled off to the side of the road.
This is the nature of God’s revelation. So much of life seems covered over, not clear. Indeed, our very understanding of God seems itself shrouded in mystery. And then, something becomes clearer: sometimes in big ways, as when we see a mountain where only moments ago there was nothing but fog, and then sometimes in small ways, as when we get a wee glimpse into the truth of the way things really are.
We cannot control these experiences; we can only stay alert, stay open, and hope that God will open our eyes at the right moment for us to see the truth and the beauty of God’s love, which is truly there all of the time.
Let Us Pray
Lord God, in these days we may find ourselves uncertain about the future, search for some sign of you amidst the troubles we face. Open our eyes and ears and hearts to your certain presence, your never-failing Word, and your Eternal Love. Amen
The Rev. John V. “Jack” Carlson retired from active ministry in the PCUSA in January, 2016. Prior to his retirement, he served for 13 years as Pastor at Highland Presbyterian Church. After serving a term as Moderator of the Presbytery of Baltimore, in September of 2017 he was elected Stated Clerk of the Presbytery. Jack is married to Lynn McCormick Carlson and has three grown children and four grandchildren.