Over the past few years, my husband and I have made it a point to take our family vacation right when school lets out for summer. Otherwise, it doesn’t happen. We get wrapped up between softball, baseball and our little berry farm. Our summer 2017 trip was a quick one, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and then up to Louisville for a visit to the famous Louisville Slugger Museum. We had a great time!
Visiting with Park Rangers always seems to be a highlight for us. One year it was the Ranger on horseback at the Petrified Forrest, this year it was a Ranger at one of the night chats. However, something one Ranger said during a our cave tour continues to intrigue my thoughts. He was teaching us about the natural arches which make up some of Mammoth Cave’s structure, and went on to say something to the effect that arches are one of the strongest architectural forms found in nature. It sparked my interest, and triggered thoughts of a spiritual reality.
First of all, the physical strength of an arch. Turns out that arches and domes have been used for thousands of years in architecture, in addition naturally occurring formations. The Roman aqueducts and Colosseum or Arches National Park in Utah for example. And think about an egg! A chicken egg has a natural arch form, and they can actually withstand a tremendous amount of weight. (I stack stuff on the eggs in my fridge all the time.)
Secondly, the word ‘arch’. And this one is a big tease, because there just isn’t time in the space of this blog post to review the origins of the word ‘arch’. But if you’re into words, it’s a good one. The word ‘arch’ ranges in definitions from a segment of a circle and bow, to describing a someone as cheeky, clever or cunning. It’s fascinating.
Third, and most important are the spiritual thoughts this Ranger’s comments stirred in my mind. I’m certain that if my brain could shoot fireworks, my husband and kids would have run for cover. The idea that arches are architecturally sound and capable of withstanding a massive amount of weight astounded me. One of God’s greatest promises to man was made with a visible sign, still to this day, in the form of an arch.
As the Lord fully engulfed this earth in a flood, His servant Noah was faithfully on board the ark. Afterwards, God made this promise to Noah and all generations to come.
“And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all future generations: I have placed My bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I form clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all the living creatures: water will never again become a flood to destroy every creature. The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all the living creatures on earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have confirmed between Me and every creature on earth.” (Genesis 9:12-17, HCSB)
Our Creator lay down his bow, which is represented and attached to our present word of focus, and gave us a promise. God is the Promise Maker and the Promise Keeper. Just like His promise confirmed with a rainbow in the sky, His promises are strong and unbreakable. God’s promises can carry more weight beyond our comprehension, and they are never broken.
When life gets challenging, it’s the foundation of God’s promises that have the ability to hold us up. His promises can carry the load. His promises can provide the architecture of our faith.
One of the promises, or arches, I hold on to the most is Joshua 1:5-6a. “No man shall be able to stand against you all of the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave or forsake you. Be strong and courageous…”
The Holy scriptures are full of promises from our Creator, some of which I hold on to when the ground beneath my feet seems a little shaky. What “arches” can you hold on to in scripture?
(Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.)