Floating down the Grand Canyon

Floating down the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon was so far beyond any possibility that it didn’t even make my bucket list. But it was real, thanks to the Christian Leaders’ Trip sponsored by Answers in Genesis. We started at Lee’s Ferry just below the Glen Canyon Bridge and spent six days on the river and five nights camping in the sand. 186 miles later, we went out to the rim world by helicopter, a trip highlighted by a much anticipated shower (!!). I put quite a few pictures here.  Brian Morley, a professional photographer posing as a Master’s Seminary philosophy prof is putting his pictures here.

Seeing the boats that would take us down the river as we drove down to riverside was almost too much to handle. In God’s grace, I had bars on my cell phone so I tried to share some of it with Sherry before we took off for total isolation. I got a little more excitement than I bargained for. As I started to put the phone away into the plastic bag that also had my wallet there was no baggie. It was gone! Dropped in the bus? Probably, but it had already left. Panic! No wallet meant no ID and no exit from the canyon! As I reported my predicament to the leaders (with no small embarrassment!) another team member walked up with the missing baggie. He had found it, dropped onto the ground. Whew!!

We immediately had our first teaching hike, seeing a petrified log. Andrew Snelling, our geologist, helped us see that the sedimentation that led to fossilization had to be fast or the higher parts of the log would have rotted. Even more convincing is the fact that branches of the tree are in a completely different layer than the trunk. There were many stops along the river and hikes for on site lecture.

It certainly wasn’t all study! The meals were great. Made to order omelets one breakfast and blueberry pancakes another. Dessert one night was strawberry cheesecake and our final supper was bar-b-qued steaks. A highlight for me was the intense conversations about Bible and life as we floated. I got a two day intensive on Spirit renewal from Greg Haslam, pastor of Westminster Chapel in London. Mark, Evan and Seth and I talked about mentoring, creation ethics, and spiritual formation. I talked of Genesis 1 as the story of the LORD, who created sun, moon, stars, plants, animals and everything else, shaping Eden/Israel for a place for Him to live with Adam and Eve, the first humans. Conversations went on into the dark and started again at first light, even before the “Coffee!!” call. That wasn’t too hard to ignore. Cowboy coffee isn’t quite what this Portlander looks forward to in the morning.

One fun part of the trip was hiking up canyons to picturesque water falls. But we didn’t just look and take pictures! God provides showers for tired professor/students! Some of the funnest things were climbing to the top of water falls and jumping into the pools below. But running the rapids of the Little Colorado with nothing but a life jacket wrapped around my hips was incredible – and a bit nerve wracking as I bounced off huge boulders and got sucked under water longer than I was ready for! (Brian has a picture of our human chain here. I was in the 24 member world record chain!).






There are many lessons and thoughts that come after an experience like this. Some profound ones like “wearing shorts means your legs get scratched up.” Isolation is unusual for  me. This is the
first time in all my travels that I’ve not communicated with Sherry on a daily basis. There was profound worship that comes in the context of such a marvelously beautiful piece of the earth. Reading Psalm 104 took on a whole different flavor in the bottom of the Canyon. But one thing that hit us all is the reality of God’s judgment on sin. Thousands of feet of sediments laid down in God’s work to rid the earth of wickedness, layers filled with fossil remains of living beings, a huge graveyard. I work to overcome sin with the grace of the LORD who came to die for sin. I am always humbled by His grace in doing that. But this reminded me of the future of those who will not respond to His grace, refusing to receive His life. “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16 ESV)

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