A Place Where Dirt Used to Be


I admit to having a bit of a crush on the Grand Canyon. I never dreamed that I would live close enough to go there for the day. Truth be told, more than once I have made the 2-hour drive just to marvel at the sunset. It is definitely one of the highlights of living in northern Arizona.

I was taking a much-needed Sabbath Hike there last Saturday, enjoying a uniquely clear day with startling colors and breathtaking views (the pics are from that hike). The weather was perfect, the crowds were small, and for much of the time I was alone with the Artist responsible for all of the beauty that spread out before me. It was, in a word, stunning. It filled me up.

As I strolled along the rim, it dawned on me that the Canyon could be summarized in a fairly simple phrase. It doesn’t sound very romantic, but has the advantage of being accurate.

The Grand Canyon is simply a place where dirt used to be.

Admittedly, that’s a description that seems unworthy of one of the natural wonders of the world. Tourists don’t say to themselves “let’s go see that place where dirt used to be.”

But isn’t that exactly what it is? If the dirt were still there, would anybody go? “Let’s go see that huge flat place, and take lots of pictures.” Not a chance. But water carved away the dirt in a way that left incredible beauty behind, and people come from around the world to admire it.

img_2725In some ways, I want to be like the Grand Canyon. There are things in me that I want God to carve away, in the same way that the water carved the canyon, and I want what is left behind to be beautiful in His eyes. That thought led to a significant prayer time along the rim last Saturday, one that I hope to repeat on a regular basis.

  • “God, I want my heart to be a place where pride used to be. Please scoop it out and throw it away. May You be pleased with the end result.”
  • “God, I want my heart to be a place where anger used to be. I submit to Your scouring hand. I know You will be glad to see it gone, and I won’t miss it either.”
  • “God, I want my heart to be a place where lust used to be. Make a huge canyon there, one that shows Your power and purity.”

King David never saw the Grand Canyon, but his famous words in Psalm 139 reveal the mindset needed in order to pray consistently this way: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

If I dared to paraphrase the man after God’s own heart, I would add this idea:

“And when You find what doesn’t please You, carve mighty canyons there. Remove what is ugly, and create beauty in its place.”

“Make my heart a place where sin used to be. And Lord, I hope You enjoy the view when You are done.”

If you would like to subscribe and receive future Sabbath Thoughts posts as an e-mail,               please click on “Follow” in the lower right corner of your browser window.

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.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Place Where Dirt Used to Be

  1. Penny Burch says:

    I love this image Mike, the place where dirt used to be….. may there be less dirt in me tomorrow than there is today and may what is left be a bit more lovely. Thanks for sharing your Sabbath thoughts!

  2. Charity Silvers says:

    Those were great thoughts! As I was reading this I also thought about the way the dirt was originally removed was with a raging. tumultuous flow of water, which can be symbolic of the difficult trials in our lives which we’d prefer we NOT have to go through. But without the trials, the beauty of Christ cannot be seen.

    • Good thought, Charity! We don’t enjoy the tumultuous times, but they do carve us in ways that can become beautiful. Thanks for extending the illustration to an interesting place. Blessings on you!

  3. Ken Royer says:

    Thanks! Beautiful.


  4. Nehsa Russell says:

    Wow this is probably one of my favorites that you’ve done. That’s a picture that will stay in my head (mostly because the Grand Canyon is so beautiful but also because you are very insightful 😉).

  5. Elaine Atterbury says:

    Oh my goodness ~ this may be one of my favorite metaphorical lessons ever!! Thanks for using that clever mind of yours to honor God and bless us, Mike!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s