Last week, in MOUTAIN TOP EXPERIENCES, Part 1, we asked a number of questions about God’s love, and why bad things happen to God’s people. This week we will look at the first of these questions: Can it be that it is especially in the “valleys” of our lives that we can most feel the power of God?
Ithaca is Gorges!
This is the slogan seen on many tourist paraphernalia in Ithaca, New York. Why? Because besides being home to world-renown Cornell University, Ithaca is famous for its many beautiful river gorges.
Situated in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Ithaca is built at the foot of Cayuga Lake, the largest of the long, narrow lakes that nestle in the valleys of rolling hills through the mid portion of western New York.
There are 11 lakes in the finger lake region: Seven known as the “Finger Lakes”, and four known as the “Minor Finger Lakes”. The lakes are linear in shape, running from north to south, and thanks to their somewhat parallel locations, they must have resembled the fingers of a large hand to the early mapmakers.
Cayuga Lake, on the southern end of which Ithaca is located, is the longest of the lakes, stretching 38.1 miles (61 kilometres) from end to end, but only 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometres) in width. Although Cayuga isn’t the deepest of the Finger Lakes, at 435 feet (133 meters) it is 53 feet (16.2 metres) below sea level, and is considered among the deepest lakes in North America.
The southern ends of all of the Finger Lakes have high walls, cut by steep gorges, with the actual depth of the carved rock well over twice as deep as what the eye can see. It is estimated that there is as much as 1000 feet of glacial sediment in the deep rock trough below the lakebeds. The gorges and their abundant waterfalls at the southern ends of these beautiful lakes are breathtaking, to say the least. Some of the most famous of these, including Watkin’s Glen, Buttermilk Falls, Taughannock Falls, Filmore Glen, and Enfield Gorge, are just a few of these beautiful sights, and with all of this splendour all around, Ithaca is really “gorgeous” – Or “Gorges”, to coin the colloquial term!
Over the past four years, my family and I have had the privilege of exploring many of these gorges, glens, and waterfalls, and the Ithaca region has become one of our favourite camping haunts. We have hiked the glens themselves, walking right beside the streams and rivers that have cut the beautiful land formation, and we have also had the privilege of walking the rim trails: The trails that run the length of the gorges from the top.
We have literally experienced these natural phenomena in every possible way, and I can tell you from personal experience that the gorges are the most beautiful from the level of the river. It is here that you can best see the waterfalls and the whirlpools. It is here that you can truly appreciate the towering rock walls with their mosses and trees. It is here, beside the cutting rivers and the powerful waterfalls, that you can really appreciate God’s power in nature. It is actually here, in the valleys, that you can truly appreciate the beauty of the top.
Friends, just like you can’t fully appreciate the beauty of God’s creative power through nature from the rims of the Finger Lakes’ gorges, you also cannot fully appreciate God’s power through our lives from the “high moments”. If everything is going well, we, as humans, tend to forget about God’s power. After all, if there are no problems in our lives, if everything is “Peachy”, then there is nothing for God to fix!
God wants us to experience His power. He wants us to fully appreciate His love for us, and His ability to change situations and turn the tables of life, and as a result, He allows us to go through valleys.
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom 5:3-5 NKJV)
Please join us next week for MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCES, Part 3: From the Slopes of Gros Morn.
(To access the entire “Mountain-Top Experiences” devotional series, please click here.)