“He does all things well.” – Mark 7:37
The first time I read it, I immediately thought of a photo I took of the sun setting over the mountains somewhere along the Appalachian trail in New York.
Vince and I had gone on a super intense hike that day. I was sore, tired, thirsty, hangry, hot, increasingly wary of every bug or plant that brushed against my leg, and to top it all off, the rocks we were climbing were slippery because it had just rained.
Every time we reached what I thought was the summit, I looked up, and there were only more rocks to climb. What amazes me is I kept looking up. I don’t know why. I guess I knew deep down if I failed enough to guess correctly, one of these times, I had to be right. Eventually, the climb would lead to unimaginable beauty. Some part of me, no matter how deeply buried beneath mud and exhaustion, knew there was beauty left to discover.
Then one time I looked up, and there were no more rocks above me. Hallelujah! We had reached the top. And I only cried twice.
Here at the top, the temperature had dropped, which meant there were less bugs. And the rain had cleared the way for this restorative sunset.
This sentence captures exactly how I felt standing at the summit, looking up at the sun sinking over the mountains to my left and the moon resting over the city I love to my right:
I didn’t want to believe that during the climb, but once we made a fire, this would be where we camped for the night. Which meant this was the view I would see when I opened my eyes that morning. And it was unmistakeable. Despite my best efforts, I could never make anything as perfect as that sky. There’s something about climbing far above everything that clears your head.
The problem is when you have to climb back down. Everything comes back to haunt you. It’s easy to look up when you know your eyes will be met with the beauty of the sun rising on a new day. It’s harder to keep looking up in hopes of catching the sun setting over a day you might wish to forget.
But reading this sentence in Scripture made me realize something: not only was this true 10,000 feet above my problems (okay, that may be an exaggeration), it’s true now in the midst of anything I’m going through.
When I think about any chaos or uncertainty I’m facing now, there’s fear and anxiety, but there’s also this strange peace. The same peace I felt in the mountains. I think it’s because there’s a part of me, no matter how deeply buried, that still trusts God knows what He’s doing. I know if I keep looking up, eventually, it will make sense. There is unimaginable beauty left to discover. The climb will lead to something I never could have fathomed on my own.
The idea that I can’t do everything on my own used to scare a perfectionist like me. But I think I have wrestled with it long enough that it has honestly become such a relief. I just don’t trust myself to do all things well. Mostly because I can point to a lot of proof that I don’t always. Which is why I have to believe there is a God who has it all figured out. When I see how He paints the sky at the end of a long day, I’m reminded.
The sunsets in Tuscany are unbelievable.
You could take a photo and convince someone it’s a painting. One time, an old guy from Australia who has worked as a metalsmith living in Tuscany for 15 years told me the reason the light catches your eyes in the surreal, orange-y way it does is actually because of pollution.
The limestone along the coast is worn down by the salt in the Mediterranean Sea, and the wind sweeps the dust particles through the air, distributing them throughout Tuscany. When the light hits the particles, they are high enough in the atmosphere and small enough that it reflects to make everything look like a watercolor. Natural pollution from sulphur dioxide can also occur in the same way through releases from volcanoes and wildfires. I remember feeling sad when I first found this out. The magic of a romantic Tuscan sunset can be explained away by natural air pollution.
But I keep looking up at them.
Maybe there’s still something magical about the fact dust particles floating around in the air only magnify the beauty of the sky there. It takes nothing away from the whole experience, except the water you drink from the tap might taste heavy.
I was made from dust, and I’m grateful there’s someone bigger than me I can put my fullest trust in. I’m relieved to know I only magnify His beauty by reflecting all that He is. He does the hard work. He takes anything toxic that tries to cloud His majesty in my life and uses it to refine me into a more beautiful masterpiece still. What’s more, His sun rises and sets every day. Faithfully.
He is consistency, and that is the greatest gift.
Where I fail, He measures up.
In peace or chaos. Through the climb or at the summit. Whether things feel like they’re falling into place or falling apart.
I want to learn to keep chasing the steadiness of the sunrise and sunset.
I want to know how to keep looking up in hopes of catching glimpses of beauty.
And I want to trust with unwavering certainty He does all things well.