Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Beautiful, But Not Safe

There are three men missing up on Mount Hood. It happens. There have been a number of people who have become lost on our local mountain, and quite a few have not returned.

There was a phone call from one of them a couple of days ago. He was holed up in a snow cave he had made and the other two had gone off for help. It doesn’t sound good.

Rescue Attempts

As I am writing the light is failing, and a storm is rolling in tomorrow.

A week ago there was sad news about the man who had gone off looking for help after he and his family had been stranded in the coastal range here. After hiking sixteen miles he had died of hypothermia.

It made my heart ache to think about his family, left alone in that cold car while he went looking for help. To think of that four year old, that seven month old, nursing on their mother as he went off into the beautiful wilderness to die cold and alone.

I was watching Larry King Live and he was trotting out the survival pundits. Mr. King said something about how “Or-ee-gawn seems like such a safe place (we pronounce it Ory-gun).”

It isn’t safe at all.

Every year people come to look at our beautiful country. The waterfalls, the rivers and lakes, the snow. Every year many such people die.

I love snow. My favorite time to enjoy it is in the middle of the night. When we get our first real snow of the year I get up during the night, about 2:00 a.m., and go to Molalla River State Park. I jump the gate and walk out through the woods and fields.

Every bit of light seems to be absorbed and reflected back again from the snow. Everything is hushed. It is so beautiful it makes my heart leap, and I naturally fall into an internal place of worship and praise.

It is the kind of beauty that can take ahold of one’s heart and recognize that there is something supernatural within that makes our kind the pinnacle of God’s creation. If my dog is with me, he is scampering and playing and laughing. But he has no appreciation of beauty. That is something for me, not for him.

That sense if enjoyment is what calls to people, pulls them to such places as this. They come to Oregon because it is beautiful. It is pretty and it brings great joy.

But it isn’t safe at all.

There are other places in the world which are also very beautiful. I went to Wyoming last summer. Yellowstone was amazing. The animals, the landscape, the geysers and hot springs. But every year people walk right up to bison and are trampled to death. Every year someone leaves the marked paths and the ground gives way, dropping them into scalding pools.

It isn’t safe.

Every year people go to Alaska to watch bears and other wild life. Folks, the world is not tame. It is not simply pretty. It is beautiful and it is dangerous.

The enjoyment I get from nature is something my Lord has given me. It is something which draws me closer to Him.

It is similar to the joy I feel when I worship in church, when I pray...

When I am in such a frame of mind I feel close to my Lord, my master, and I tremble.

When I was young I did not understand the phrase “fear of God.”

Jesus is my friend. Why should I fear Him? He loves me. He cares for me. There is nothing to fear.

But as I have grown older I have grown more aware of the awesome power of my Lord. It makes me tremble.

When I worship I consider the power of creation (read my post “Soot” for more on that). I see my Lord’s supernatural beauty, the source of wonder which I sense when I see anything of great beauty, like that first fall of snow.

And I consider the awesome power of who He is. And a simple thought occurs to me:

He is good, but He isn’t safe at all.


All praises to my Lord, my Master!
All praises to the Creator of all things!
All praises to He who knew me before time began,
Who hold me up, gives me strength.
All praises to the one true God!

Use me Lord. Take my life,
Take this life as a living sacrifice.
Tell me what You want of me...

And I will obey.

-- Amen


Jim said...

By seeing the beauty of the earth God made: (Romans) 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Your post reminded me of this, one of my favorite verses. Along withthe surrounding verses there.

gracie said...

Very true... I grew up in the South Pacific Islands... paradise, but not benign. Tragedy strikes anywhere and nature is unpredictable.
Every year there are tourists who drown in the surf here in Australia because they don't understand the risks or how to be careful. If I went to Oregon I would have no idea how to travel safely in a winter environment!!

Cinder said...

So very true...I think we get swept away by the beauty of the earth and completely forget the dangers which come with that beauty.

"He is good, but He isn’t safe at all."

Honestly, I'm still coming to a complete understanding of this...sometimes having a bit of a battle with it. I guess maybe growing pains.

Thanks so much for your posts Will...you really make me dig deep and they usually arrive in a very timely manner! Blessings to you and yours today and throughout the remainder of the week...

Jada's Gigi said...

How true it is! I am reminded of the scripture that says..."it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God" and so it is...He can do as he will, turn my life upside down...re-arrange everything..simply for His own glory, His own pleasing...Yes..he is good...thankfully...but He is not safe...

bjk said...


Anonymous said...

Dear Lord, please bless and watch over these three men, their friends and family. Please guide them gently down the mountain to safety, or if your will commands it, up off the mountain into your warm embrace.


curious servant said...


No more calls from the man in the snow cave. They have received several "pings" from the phone, it seems to be somewhere around the 10,000 foot level. Yesterday rescues were only able to climb to the 8,000 foot level. The storm is picking up. Wind gusts are now at 40 mph and expected to hit 80 mph tonight. They won't fly 'copters up there unless the conditions are far better (a couple of years ago there was a crash on the mountain when a rescue helicopter slipped into the slope and tumbled down... it was awful).

Tomorrow's storm is going to be a good one. Beautiful thing to watch when in a safe place.

Going to be hard for the rescuers to move around in. Even the local ski resorts are closing down.

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.

G~ said...

hello there. :) this is such an awesome post.

it's been heartbreaking to hear the news about the people being lost out there (from way over here in Ky!) i just can't imagine what it must be like. two feet of snow is a bunch for us, ya know? we just can't quite comprehend the kind of snow you have out there.

i love the way you pull this post together. it took me a long time to understand the "fear the Lord" thing too. i was taught that it meant 'respect', as in respect the power and might of God, etc. so anyhow, it's kinda the same thing... but you make it so poetic an beautiful.

bravo! and thanks.


squirrel said...

(Psalms 96:9) Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.

Beautiful post Curious. I will be praying for those lost men.

C & G said...

Asked about Aslan . . .
"Is he safe?" Susan asks.
"No, he's not safe, but he's good" replies beaver . . .

curious servant said...

Many of you said you would pray for those men on Mount Hood.

The latest news is that the cell phone appears to be turning on and off at various intervals, perhaps indicating that someone is trying to conserve its power.


Ame said...

"When I was young I did not understand the phrase “fear of God." But as I have grown older I have grown more aware of the awesome power of my Lord. It makes me tremble."

me, too. i have actually thought of this often over the last year as God has given me wisdom and understanding into what it means to "fear God." it's not the same as being afraid of evil. it's a reverent fear of knowing who He is . . . who He is.

curious servant said...


Blogger won't let me leave a comment on your blog.

Ame said...

thank you ... i am honored to be called your friend!

parenting is an awesome privalege, and your story of how you love your wife and how you love your boys is extraordinary.

i look forward to reading your post on parenting, my friend!

curious servant said...


One man found... dead... two still missing.

curious servant said...


The rescue operation has been changed.

It is now scaled back to a recovery operation. The two men are still missing. Photos in the camera of the man they found show they did not have the equipment nescessary to survive the current conditions.

Our beautiful mountain is once again claiming lives of the unwary.