Overwhelmed by More than a Canyon

IMG_0540 It was the perfect song, in the perfect place, on a day that could not have been much more perfect. For the first time EVER on a Sabbath hike, I ran a song back four times. When I explain it to you, I think you’ll understand why.

We’ve seen plenty of benefits to living in Northern Arizona since we moved here last May. Our ministry is exciting and fulfilling, we love our small town, the seasons are delightful, and we’ve had snow twice this month – yes, I’m still enough of a SoCal guy to be giddy when it snows. But that’s not all.

We now live just two hours from the Grand Canyon. We can drive there for the day! I never thought I would be able to say that.

IMG_0529I had my first Sabbath hike along the rim of the Grand Canyon last Saturday (the pictures are from that hike – if you click on them, they grow). It was awesome, breath-taking, incredible, and all the other adjectives that attempt to describe what is basically indescribable.

That’s why Big Daddy Weave’s song “Overwhelmed” made such an impact on me when it came up on my Spotify playlist (Spotify users, see my note below). It begins with the phrase “I see the work of Your hands,” and goes on to tell God how overwhelming it is to know Him. It includes a phrase that perfectly captures what tends to happen on my worship walks:

“I delight myself in You, captivated by Your beauty.
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You.”

IMG_0538So there I was, walking along the rim of the Grand Canyon, hearing His creation scream about His power and majesty (Romans 1:20), and I couldn’t stop listening to that song. I had to let it express to God for me what seemed almost impossible to put into words.

Those moments reminded me of another unforgettable experience on a hike a few weeks ago. “This is Amazing Grace” by Phil Wickham includes the phrase “Jesus I sing for all that you’ve done for me.” As I sang, I realized that I had never truly done that – “all” is a big word. So I paused the music, and decided to give it a shot. Beginning with the moment I became a child of God through faith in Christ when I was 11 years old, I spent time thanking Him for all that He has done for me since then, in increments of about 5 years at a time. It covered 80% of my life, took more than 20 minutes to complete (if “complete” is the right word), and was one of the most exhilarating praise times that I can remember. I wish I had done it sooner, and I’m eager to do it again.

Good things happen when we intentionally put ourselves in places where God overwhelms us, and when we carve out large chunks of time to thank Him for ALL that He has done for us. Our busy lives will conspire to rob us of those moments. I’m learning, relatively late in life, to push back, and claim those moments.

Who wants to push back with me? You may not have a Grand Canyon near you, but I bet you have a place that shouts about God. And I imagine you could make quite a list of good things that He has done for you. Can I challenge you to carve out some time this week to be overwhelmed by Him, and to bring that list to His attention?

That would be a pretty good way to get ready for Thanksgiving Day.

(Spotify users, my Sabbath hike playlist is almost 33 hours long [and growing], and includes all kinds of worship songs. It is a public list, called “Sabbath,” and my user name is mikegaston. I invite you to follow it, and use it as you wish)

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About Sabbath Thoughts

My name is Mike Gaston. I am a former missionary, a Shepherding Pastor at Heights Church in Prescott, AZ, a happy husband, a spoiled father of two daughters, a proud grandfather, and a recently-convinced pursuer of the benefits of intentional, regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest. This blog will allow me to share thoughts about Sabbath, as well as thoughts about God and the Christian life that come out of my restful Sabbath moments.
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8 Responses to Overwhelmed by More than a Canyon

  1. surferyoda says:

    I don’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you writing. Thanks for sharing your walks with us.

  2. littleredhen8@sbcglobal.net says:

    Thanks for sharing these. I always enjoy reading your Sabbath Thoughts.


  3. FATIMA REIS. says:

    OW. Thank you Pastor Mike for continuing to inspire me from a far, I so enjoy your Sabbath thoughts, thank you so much for sharing. I am feeling so very Blessed that our Paths have crossed, what a privilege it is to know you.
    I too do a lot of walks and feel overwhelmed by the beauty of our Lord’s Creation. Sometimes just the sound of my feet walking on a leaf or a group of ants that I have to move to avoid crushing or the thinner air that I am breathing when we reach the top of s high mountain, it is all overwhelmingly beautiful and without words to express what I am feeling at such a Precious time.
    Thank you Pastor Mike for the reminder that we all have much to be grateful for and Praise our Lord for.
    Thank you for your challenge that I will very happily take with you. More Precious and special time with the Lord is always what I look forward to.
    May you and your family have a wonderful and Blessed Thanksgiving and may our Lord continue to Bless you with His Love and Amazing Grace.
    God Bless you and your family.

  4. Ken Royer says:

    Wonderful! Awe inspiring. Thanks.

    Blessed Thanksgiving to you…

    Ken & Mary

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