Living in God’s Country

Two campers with gear hiking through Bear Moun...

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With a title like the one that I have chosen, I might just be leading you astray… a least a little bit.  Maybe not.  Your thoughts on what God’s country is could very well be what I am thinking about right now.  Likewise, they could be very different.  But even so, I still understand why you would think that.

Many people in the United States, especially during the first half of the month of July, refer to the whole country as God’s country.  There is a feeling of patriotism, loyalty, and superiority that bring along an attitude of this land being divinely set apart to be a land above all others.  For other people, those feelings of patriotism and superiority last all year long.

I’m not saying that people feeling that way are wrong.  In fact, I share in those feelings.  But that is not what I am focusing my topic on today.

I have travelled all over the United States.  In pretty much every place I have been I have met people that love their hometown (or some location not far from their hometown) so much that they refer to it as God’s country.  I take that back.  Even on my trips to southern California or the New York City area there has been someone that has referred another area of the state as God’s country because it is so beautiful.  They don’t say it about anywhere in SoCal or NYC, but I have heard it said about the upstate areas of those two states.

Montana is where I hear it the most.  And I think I have to agree more with those folks than with others.  Have you been to Montana?  Specifically, have you been in the western half of Montana?  That is some great looking real estate.  Let me clarify… If you like wide open places with mountains and valleys and a cowboy feel to them, Montana has some great looking real estate.

But so do Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada… all for the same reasons.

If you have been to Hawaii, you might think of it as God’s country.  Well, maybe if you worship the Sun god, or the Sea god.  Maybe it is because you are a guy and worship the Hawaiian Tropic goddesses.  But I won’t count Hawaii right now (even though I have been to Maui and thought it was beautiful) because it isn’t part of the 48 contiguous states.  And for the same reason, Alaska isn’t included.  If someone wants to send me on an all-expense paid trip to Alaska so that I can experience the state, I will be glad to add it to my list.

I live in Utah.  I have lived in Utah my whole life, minus two years that I lived in Brazil, and 18 months that I lived in Houston, Texas.  Tomorrow I will be going on a backpacking trip in some of Utah’s mountains.  I will be going camping in God’s country.

I enjoy the mountains.  If I could buy one, build a cabin and live there for the rest of my life, I would be in heaven… or at least a little closer than the rest of you (hello, the elevation difference alone put’s me closer to heaven). For me, camping in the mountains is the most enjoyable way for me to enjoy all of God’s earthly creations.  There is flora and fauna (I still remember the term from my 4th grade Utah History class), there is clean air, and other than the sounds of nature, there is quiet.  To me, this is the place where I can feel more at one with God, where I am more in tune with Him, where I can feel more of His influence and watchful eye.

From a religious point of view, mountains are sacred ground to me.  And they must be sacred to God too because of how much he used them while interacting with man.  For example, Moses went up onto a mountain and received the Ten Commandments.  Abraham was told to go up onto the mountain to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Mountains were an integral part of religious teachings as shown in the Old Testament.

I will be going on this hike with five other adults and six teenage boys.  My son is one of them.  The fact that there are teenage boys coming along may cause it to not be as serene as it could have been, but this campout is for them.  They will get to experience something that not many teenagers get to experience.  It will be good for them.  It will be good for me to be with them.

If you don’t have mountains near where you live, find a place where you can experience the tranquility that the back country wilderness can give you.  Spend some time and rid yourself of stresses that come from life.  Try to become a little more attached to nature.  Get yourself away to your own version of “God’s country”.  It will do you some good.  And if you want to load a fifty pound pack on your back, camp out for four days, and do it with a teenage boy, you will get an even different point of view about life.  I just hope it is a good one.  As for me, I will enjoy this opportunity.  And when I get back, I may just write a travelogue and let you know what you missed… or have to look forward to.

Just another view from a Palmtree.


Flash…Boom…Oohs and Ahhs

During the wee hours of the morning, during that time of my most deep and peaceful sleep, it started.  It was easy to go unnoticed…at least for some people.  It was a simple little flash of light followed by a deep rumble.  It wasn’t very loud.  It didn’t really even wake me up.  Nor did the second or third one.  But it didn’t take long for the storm to be raging and I was awake.

This morning we had one of the most spectacular thunder storms with accompanying lightning displays that I have seen in quite some time.  I was first awakened at about 2:45.  I was tired and wanted to go back to sleep but my fascination with lightning kept fighting my bodies desire to sleep.  From that point until I finally got out of bed at 7:00, I was in and out of sleep and somewhat subconsciously enjoying the heavenly fireworks as flashes of light filled my bedroom.  At times, I didn’t even open my eyes to see the light show.  Instead I listened to the audio portion.  It was amazing.  As one neighbor wrote on her Facebook page, “sounded like a serious bowling tournament up in heaven!”  That is one good way of describing it, though the sound effect must have been stuck in reverse play for it to be a bowling tournament because the smacking of the pins came before the rolling of the ball down the lane.

We all will have a different way of describing the storm.  Never-the-less, it was outstanding.  I was wishing I wasn’t so tired so that I could just remain awake the whole time and enjoy it.  I would have been awake if I had ended up sleeping in the hammock in the backyard as I originally planned.  In fact, not only would I have been awake, I would have been wet.  There were some raindrops mixed in with those flashes and booms.  It was a natural Blue Man Group show with no instruments, no performers, and no neon lights.  Okay, maybe not, but you get the idea.  It was a sound and light show with some splashing.

Storms like these are one of my favorite nature-made events.  I am an audio-visual learner.  I enjoy musical scores more than soundtracks.  I relish in activities that awaken my different senses.  Sitting outside during that storm would have been even better as I would have been able to smell the rain, feel the wind blow, and experience the whole event as much as one could.  It would have been my own personal utopia.  It was one of those situations in which I not only appreciated how nature works, I was increasingly amazed at the works of our Father in Heaven.  Did He orchestrate the whole event?  I doubt it, but He did orchestrate the creation of the elements and how they behave with each other.

It was a great storm.  It was an example of the greatness of this earth we live on.  It was a testament of the greatness of God.  I hope for a replay tonight…but I want the start time to be a bit earlier so that I can participate before I go to bed.

Just another view from a palmtree.