October 18, 2018
Where morning dawns and evening fades You call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65:8
I just saw a National Geographic article on the best places in the national park system to see sunrises and sunsets. It’s an interesting list, in that it suggests exactly where to go to catch the finest views, and covers 10 parks, from beaches (Canaveral National Seashore) to mountains (Acadia, Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks) to the Old West and deserts (Saguaro, Petrified Forest and Arches National Parks, to even an urban setting (the National Mall and Memorial Parks). The piece even mentions surrounding sights and sounds, like silence (Badlands National Park) to howling coyotes (Joshua Tree National Park). Although it’s not on this list, I must add Haleakala National Park for its sunrises and sunsets and their silence. Just a note of caution: the park now requires private and rental vehicles to obtain a reservation for viewing sunrise from the mountain’s summit. Don’t worry if you don’t get one; sunset is just as gorgeous, and doesn’t require a reservation–yet).
Just think—every day we get to see a pair of spectacular celestial displays, at the beginning and at the end (unless, of course, it’s cloudy)! Two times to take in events that are as dependable and consistent as the One who created the sun to begin with and who called it “good” (a bit of an understatement, wouldn’t you agree?).
Dawn and dusk certainly do bring out feelings of wonder and joy. They’re excellent moments to worship and thank the God who formed us in His own image and pronounced His ultimate creation “very good.”
But what about the stretches flanked by daybreak and nightfall, sundown and sunup? Our tendency is to lose sight of the beautiful and sublime, and instead preoccupy ourselves with everyday cares and worries. What if we heeded the call of Psalm 113:3 to praise God not just twice a day but all day? What would that even look like?
The answer is found in the same psalm, in its seemingly contrasting but actually complementary two-fold picture of God. On one hand He’s incomparable and exalted over all, yet He “stoops down to look on the heavens and earth” (v. 5). This is how the Wycliffe Bible Commentary puts it: “While supreme over the nations of the earth and the hosts of the heavens, God humbles Himself to consider the needs of mankind.” The prophet Isaiah echoes this awesome truth: “For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isaiah 57:15).
This is how we live in the light and in the dark, aware of and confident in the knowledge that the remarkable God who bookends each day with two amazing blazes of glory, also oversees the times in between, gladly bearing our burdens 24/7 (Psalm 55:22, 68:19).
What’s not to praise about a God like that?!